Rob Knight

The lives of others

January 11, 2013

As I walked into the office this morning, I noticed a homeless guy hanging out over by Derby Park. The thought of him spending the night in the cold was unbearable to me. I was getting out of a warm car, headed for a (mostly) warm office, to spend the day with warm people. And here was this guy, sitting at a cold metal picnic table on a cold winter morning.

I went in and put my stuff down and decided to go buy him a cup of coffee.

He’s younger than I am. Through our brief conversation, I learn that he’s an alcoholic who has lived on the street for 7 years. He drinks a beer for breakfast and spends the day collecting recyclables to pay for food and his drinking habit.

That is his life. He is younger than I am.

Sometimes, I think we are afraid to get close to people like him because it reminds us how close we all are to that. Or so we can pretend that part of society doesn’t exist: the part that sleeps outside every night for 7 years.

I’m now in my warm office, drinking a warm cup of tea, talking to warm people. And he is outside, thinking about a beer, trying to make it all go away.

I think I’m being vague in this writing because I don’t want to think about it. I just want to imagine it doesn’t happen. I just want to pretend the worst of society is boring meetings and uncleaned lunch dishes in the office kitchen.

It’s not. Be sympathetic to that. Always be sympathetic to that.