Homelessness: A Conflicted Stream of Consciousness

There’s a man just to my right.

He’s not in line.

Just awkwardly standing there, out of place.

His head is in his hands.

He is invisible to those around him.

They don’t see him.

Or they pretend not to.

Is he…crying?

I steal an awkward glance, hoping we don’t make eye contact.

If he saw me looking at him, he might try to talk to me.

And I wouldn’t know what to say.

He doesn’t look normal.

He might not know how to talk.

He raises his head briefly and makes a sort of sobbing sound.

He’s obviously mentally ill.

No one else is transparent enough to display their emotions in public.

Tears mingle with thick yellow strings of snot.

Like a crying child.

I am repulsed.

At the snot.

At the awkwardness.

At the circumstances that so cruelly deposited this man here on the sidewalk.

If a normal person were crying, wouldn’t someone do something?

Yet no one does anything.

Is he even a person?

I wonder if he played with friends on the playground in elementary school and if he remembers it.

Did he graduate high school?

He limps away.

There’s a pizza box that someone has set on the top of a trash can.

He opens it hopefully.

It’s empty.

I watch as he disappears down the sidewalk.

And I…I’m buying a movie ticket.

Dear God, isn’t there anything anyone can do?


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