I was setting my phone up in the hands-free holder as this man walked toward me. He was clearly homeless or living in poverty, and he was bigger than me and I was alone.
He walked almost in front of the car – was he blocking me in? – then made his way to my open window. Two feet from me, and no one was around.
“Do you harrr amm hmm?”
I couldn’t understand him, but it was clear what he was looking for.
“I’m sorry,” I told him. “I don’t have anything on me.”
I did have money on me, including a reasonable amount of cash. I could have given him change.
But fear for my own safety mixed with worry about giving him money he could use for further self-harm, and I didn’t.
As he walked away, I thought again about how life isn’t fair. It’s a thought that comes to me often. I don’t have to fight against racism or generations of addition and abuse. He probably does, and based on our interaction today, right now it looks like he’s losing.
As he walked away, I felt a lot of things. Guilt for being afraid. Confusion about how the world can be so breathtakingly gorgeous but still hold so much pain. And a lot of sadness because things are hard for him, and even though I care, I didn’t help.
I know there are a lot of layers to homelessness, poverty, and addictions. There’s way more to it than I understand. But people are still people, and I need to do more. WE need to do more.
*I posted this on my Facebook a few days ago. Several people commented on it saying I shouldn’t feel guilty for putting safety first, and I don’t really. It’s just one of a number of feelings this encounter up for me. And I do think we should do more.