Flurry O' Fury

Monday, August 15, 2005

So I’m walking out of my local comic book emporium to my car when a homeless guy approaches me:

“Hey man.”

Now, when you live in a big city, you’re used to seeing a dozen homeless people everyday. But despite their large numbers, it used to be rare that a homeless person would actually approach you for something. However, it seems to me that this proactive kind of homeless has been increasing in number lately, to the point where I’m running into them at least once a month. Through these meet & greets, I’ve found that nearly all of these approaching homeless employ 1 of 3 stock stories:

I need bus fare to get home.
I need gas money to get home.
I need change to call home.

These stories (or lies, as they should be more properly called) all have a common theme: “I’m not homeless - I’ve just run into bad luck.” Apparently, the homeless have found that people aren’t identifying with their homelessness, so many have ditched (or rather stashed) the stereotypical shopping carts and cardboard signage in favor of attempting to appear stranded instead of vagrant. I expect that the success rate of these attempts isn’t much greater than your standard begging, but then success is not exactly these people’s forte anyway.

So anyhow, most people I know favor ignoring and fleeing these more aggressive street citizens. Rebecca, for example, takes care to avoid eye contact as she hurries away. But I, on the other hand, prefer to acknowledge the presence of our hobo friends. It’s my belief that these people are due at least that courtesy – they are human beings, after all.

“Hey man! Hey! I’m out of gas.”, he says.
“Sorry, no thanks.”, I reply.
“Hey #$%* you, man! You could at least give me a #$%*ing answer, #$%hole.”

Okay, most of these people are human beings. Not this one though.

“Hey, I gave you an answer and that was ‘no thanks’. Maybe you wouldn’t be such a #$%*ing loser if you actually listened to people.”
“You #$%*ing son-of-a-bitch! You #$%* yourself, you #$%*sucker!”
“Oh yeah? Now I know why they set #$%*ing bums like you on fire, you filthy #$%*!”

It basically went downhill from there. It’s shameful really, how I allowed myself to be dragged down to his level…

…yet it was somehow liberating at the same time. I know that most wouldn’t have spoken back to him, but I feel that people shouldn’t have to suffer random, noxious abuse, unless they’re on one of those reality TV shows that subject them to random, noxious abuse for my entertainment. So it felt good to speak up and fight back. I did stop short of backing over him though – I had just washed my car.

But even after all of that, I’m still going to give other homeless people the benefit of the doubt when they approach me because you just never know – one day, someday, one might have something worthwhile to say. I’m still going to stay out of stabbing range, though.

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