DainBramaged (1000+ posts) Fri Dec-09-11 04:18 PM
"Can you spare any change for food?"
That comment stunned me as I exited my local supermarket earlier this afternoon. I turned, and there sitting as if everything was great on this sunny day, reading a newspaper like they belonged, was a young couple. First glance, well dressed, not dirty, no 'meth marks' on their faces. Neither smoking. He shaggy blond hair sticking out from under a ski cap, her dark hair under a hoodie. Nice coats, nice boots on both.
"Is it for food or drugs and booze?"
No sir (huh, sir, are you shitting me?) we're hungry and we have no money.
You have split seconds to think how to respond without being hostile appearing or judgemental.
"Can I buy you lunch?"
YES sir, yes sir you can!"
I had just come out of the market, $43.00 in food for most of the week. Fits in a couple of cloth bags. I had a $20 as the change.
"I need to put this in my car, I'll be right back"
OK, we'll wait."
Polite, good teeth, pretty warmly dressed, but there was this edge, they didn't seem to be 'average' homeless.
Stuff in the car, walking back. I think, what is it, stray dogs and cats, dozens of people coming in and out, they asked me. I'm no angel, but my angels keep me grounded.
Yes sir, if it's hot, we're happy!"
We walk down the mall to the pizza joint. "Where are you from?" Not around here sir."
"Are you both older than 18?" " Yes sir, I'm 23, my sister is 21."
Their names are Rich and Pat. I took it as truth. I have no reason to doubt them.
We got to the pizza joint and found a booth. "How about hot subs instead of pizza, I'm sure you get that a lot?" Quick looks and a faint smile from his sister, "Yes sir, we'd like that, you can order for us."
As I've stated before, we've not many 'poor' round these parts, it's one of the richest Puke counties in the US. I ordered them meatball subs and got them both drinks from the cooler. I spent $18.42 of my $20 bill. I'm the one who will be sucking down PB&J sandwiches this week, but that's OK.
"Where are you from?" Quick glances, nods, and then " We're from Indiana, we've been trying to get South where it's warmer before it is too cold. Our Mom had some problems she can't fix, we couldn't stay."
I sat speechless while they ate, it wasn't my place to ask any more personal questions. When you're poor and you HAVE to get out of your house, it's probably best. Their hair wasn't clean. Their hands were, but it was a while since they've showered.
"I'm not trying to be a jerk, but you have nice clothes". " Oh, (laughing quietly) we just raided the clothing bins over there last night, folks throw away nice clothes around here. My boots are new, little big, but they're new."
Living on the road in the richest country in the world and you're raiding clothing donation bins to stay warm.
"How do you get rides, it's illegal to hitch around here." "We hang out where there are trucks and try and get a ride. It's not always pleasant, but we've made it here."
"How long have you been on the road?" "Three weeks, three weeks."
(disclaimer; we talked a lot more, just too much to write down. They never told me why they left, but they were genuinely good kids).
After they finished, I told them I had to go, and asked it I could do anything else to help.
"No sir, no sir, it's been a good day now"
I got up, I shook his hand, his sister gave me a tentative hug, and I gave them this small compact LCD flashlight I carry to help me see when I'm walking at night. They didn't want to take it, but I insisted.
I turned and walked out tears streaming down my wrinkled old face because there's nothing else I can do for them, I'm too poor myself. I only hope they make it ok, and I hope MY angel looks after them.
Thanks for reading.