Except that it wasn’t. Why? Because I saw the same homeless guy that I saw last Friday. After I got off of the bus, I noticed he was sitting under the tree I saw him under last time. I’ve always wanted to be in contact with the homeless but I was never quite sure as how to go about it. But I figured since I had some time, I would go and talk to him.
Last Friday, I met him for the first time. I knew he was struggling so I gave him my only dollar in my wallet at the time and I thought that that was going to be it. But today made me realize that it wouldn’t be.
When I went over to him, I was somewhat nervous because our last interaction was quite short. I greeted him, gave him my dollar and then I was on my way. That really was the end of our interaction. But today I felt that I should really sit and talk with him.
I didn’t actually sit down with him but I squatted near him. I saw that ants were all over the ground and I didn’t want to get bitten or anything. Our conversation, while it was longer than last time, didn’t seem that way. Honestly, I think time slowed down a little. What we ended up talking about really pained my own heart.
This homeless man, is something special. He told me his name was Oscar. Then he went on to tell me about his life. He told me that he was a veteran from the Vietnam War and that he had been shot in the back twice. He said that being shot was the reason that he had very weak legs and couldn’t manage to be too mobile in one day.
He said that he’s been homeless for a while because the government retracted the money he was supposed to receive under the GI Bill and so he’s been struggling ever since, until he had nothing.
And then to make matters worse, he told me that he has a heart condition. In fact, during the weekend, he had a heart attack but somehow managed to get himself to the veteran hospital before anything truly tragic happened. I could only imagine how scary that must have been.
He told me that his heart medicine is $40. That seems so impossible to pay when you’re homeless. And what baffles me is that Oscar is a genuinely good guy. He’s got big dreams of owning a church one day to preach the gospel of Christ. Can you believe that? All that he’s been through and he wants to preach the word more than anything. That’s incredible.
Then I talked with him longer and found out that he has 2 daughters. And then he told me that the house his daughters were living in burned down, along with all of the food stamps that fed them. Now his daughters are homeless too living with their mother. It’s tragic. But that single dollar I gave him, was used to feed his children some chinese take-out.
It made me feel good to know that my money was used for a great cause. I do have doubts sometimes when I give out money. So when I see the same homeless people and I get a chance, I’ll ask them what they’ve been doing. So far, Oscar is the only one I’ve seen more than once and interacted with.
But for all of the things that have happened to Oscar, he’s such a positive guy. So it makes me wonder why good things haven’t been happening for him? Where are his blessings? But then that made me think that I should be his blessing. After all, we both believe that God will make things work for him, so in the meantime, I want to help him as much as I can.
But before our conversation ended, he asked me to use my phone. I let him, and he called his wife. She was crying on the other end because of the house but he told me that he can’t even cry anymore. He’s been homeless for quite some time and he can’t spare the tears anymore.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget my experience with Oscar. For my own personal fulfillment, I had to help him. He did ask me why I took the chance to talk with him, and all I could say was that if I can’t do anything else to help you, I’ll lend you my ears to ease your pain. So I put up with ants crawling on me for a little bit and sweating in the sun, to listen to this man.
The real reason he asked was because no one had dared to come talk to him or help him out. I see plenty of people as I get off the bus wearing suits and ties and I know they have money. Still no one helps. And Oscar doesn’t beg them too. He’s not stubborn or prideful, he just knows that you can’t force someone into helping you and he isn’t going to try.
I do wonder how it must have looked for a 20-year-old to be talking to a homeless man aged most likely over 50 years. It probably looked strange but I don’t care. I wanted to help him so I did. I knew the risks and took them anyway. And thank God Almighty that I had the courage to stick around.
So I made an unspoken commitment to myself to help Oscar. Even though it could’ve been dangerous, I couldn’t bear to do nothing. So for the time being, he will have my time when I can spare it. That will be the least I can do.
And that experience truly ended my 6th day as an intern…