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Monday, September 06, 2004

Monday, September 6, 2004, 11:59PM

This morning a homeless man approached me and asked me to spare some change for a bagel. I feel naive giving a stranger money, and so I told him I would walk with him to the nearest shop to buy him a bagel or a muffin. After a few steps he told me what he really wanted was to stay in a hostel. I apologized, telling him money was tight, but that I'd gladly buy him something to eat. Frustrated by my inability to provide him with cold hard cash he turned away, not even taking me up on the offer of a muffin from Starbucks. This is an offer even I wouldn't refuse.

I sat drinking my coffee in frustration. I offered up my own food money to a stranger and was left feeling under appreciated. I decided the best response in the future would be to give whoever it was some contacts of shelters within the district. Walking back to residence I saw him again, and giving me a cheeky smile he said "Not even five cents beautiful?", I said no and he replied "Well you're a sweetheart anyways". Even though he was a bit of an asshole, he could see I made an effort, and that was enough to put me at ease.

When I looked up shelters on the internet what I mostly found was articles. Unfortunately they were a little disappointing. The shelters in the city are dangerous, dirty, uncomfortable and very hard to get into. They are often cockroach infested slums with an edgy crowd. One man said that when he went to bed he put his dirty socks under the bed, and when he woke up he found that someone had stolen them.

After reading this I don't know what to say to someone with nowhere to sleep at night. While I lie comfortably in my dorm room they will go through agony trying to find somewhere to lay their heads. I guess I could point a homeless person in the direction of a shelter, but how much good would that do? Even if their lucky enough to get a bed they can't consider themselves lucky.


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