When I came out of the AAA office this morning after asking why they took money out of my account today, making my bank account negative, I heard a skateboarder riding next to me. I looked over and saw he wasn’t on his way to talk to me, but the guy next to me who was getting into his truck. My car was parked right next to the truck so I was able to hear the kid (17?) ask the guy for a couple bucks for food, offering to wash his windows and described how his clothes got soaked from the rain last night. The guy told the kid, “not today”.
But now the kid was leaving. I said, “Hey! what’s up?” The kid said, “Ooh nothing. I’m just looking to get some breakfast. I’ve been homeless for about 6 months and my clothes got soaked in the rain last night, and I don’t know if it’s going to rain again.”
“Nope, you’re good. It’s just going to be cloudy all week. You want a couple bucks?”
“Oh yea man thanks.”
“I got some socks too if you want em. Brand new.”
“Oh yea man that would be great!”
His eyes lit up and he smiled. He finally introduced himself as Ben, and after introducing myself as Mooch, I told him I sometimes keep socks in my car to pass out. I told him I usually give out a couple pairs per person, but if he needed more he can have more. Ben thanked me but said no, a couple pairs would be fine because he didn’t know if he could keep them dry.
I hesitated to tell him I was homeless too. Instead I told him to get something to eat and enjoy the day. I usually don’t tell a homeless person I just met that I too am homeless when I meet them in the same town I sleep in. I need to get to know them a little more first. That’s just my way of playing it safe. Because we’re both vulnerable. Building relationships is a little more fragile here.
When I see Ben again, I’ll spend more time with him. I wish I did this morning, but at least I made a new friend smile.
Moral of this story; even when you’re broke and in a rush, you can still make someone smile. Providing a pair of socks is the cheapest, easiest and quickest way to befriend, encourage and humanize a homeless person. Please consider keeping a bag of White Gold in your car to see one of these smiles.
Enjoy the day.