- Aperture: f/14
- Focal Length: 55mm
- ISO: 800
- Shutter: 1/400 sec
- Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL
I’m acclimating to Boston pretty well, but the one thing I can’t get used to is the vast number of homeless people roaming the streets. Alabama doesn’t have a large homeless population, not that you can see anyway. Police usually make them leave pretty quickly so that the only way you can find them is if you know where to look.
Here, all I have to do is walk out my front door. I see the same guys every day in the same places doing the same things. This gentleman is usually asleep in front of the Mass Ave bus station in the mornings when I head to work. Sometimes he’s awake when I come home, sometimes not. Another man sits cross legged on the sidewalk, his hands cupped in an expression of pleading that often gives me the uncanny sense that he’s bestowing his blessing upon me as I pass. The first morning he did it, reaching his hands out towards me, I was so moved that I had to hurry past because I was starting to cry.
What a fine sliver we all walk. A handful of bad days and someone’s waving a DSM-IV in your face, shoving anti-depressants in your hand, offering a one way ticket to the local psych ward.
People say it’s better to not make eye contact with the people who live on the streets. Better to ignore the black man who can be found every evening drinking wine from a paper bag as he sits on a junction box near my very wealthy, very privileged street. Better to walk past the man offering to shine shoes, as well as the man who waggles a small silver dish like he’s passing the offering plate on Sunday morning. Definitely better to ignore the guy who waves his shoes while shouting curses at passersby.
I smile harder for them. Offer a cheerful, “Good morning.” We spend too much time treating people like faceless shells. These people have hearts. Souls. Their life has meaning.
I’ve been without a job. I’ve had my car repossessed. I’ve been evicted. I’ve seen some pretty muddy bottoms. Life in this town is hard, and I’m glad I walk past these people every day, if for no other reason than to stop a moment and be grateful for the very nice job with the very fair salary in the very pretty building in the very cool town. It didn’t have to be me. I certainly didn’t deserve it. But it was me, and on my way to and from work every day, I am grateful.
Music: What It’s Like by Everlast (lyrics)