There are two homeless, or home-challenged, guys who came by our house every couple of weeks this summer to pick our weeds for $15 or $20. My fiancee and I didn’t have a problem with this, they were willing to work and we were willing to pay for their services.
As these guys came by, we would start to learn about one of them. He was the more talkative of the pair and I picked up bits and pieces over the summer. He and his wife moved to Albuquerque from Roswell, he had been out of work for a while, they were living with his step-sister while he walked around the city looking for odd jobs, he had been a car detailer before he was jobless. I have to give him snaps, he hadn’t been coming around looking for a cash handout.
The summer moved on, and his pal stopped coming by the house to work (although I still see him every few days panhandling on Lomas), but he kept coming by. However, he’s been coming by more often, and not just to work, but to ask for a ride when he missed the bus (which he did this weekend) or to ask for an advance on work to be done later (which, to his credit, he remembers the next time he comes back – which he has done a few times).
I don’t usually mind giving him a little bit of money, because I consider myself very lucky to have a few bucks to give him. I’m lucky enough to have a home, food in the cupboard, clothes in my closet, a fiancee I love very much and who loves me back, a sweet dog who has been with me through my separation and divorce, and my return to college and graduation. All in all I’m a very lucky guy. I realize that for the grace of God/Goddess/Buddha/Sam, the bad breaks could have hit me and I could be in his shoes.
He was making a B-line to our house today when I was biking home and we bumped into each other across the street from my place and he was telling me he didn’t have any cash, and had gotten a message from one of the car wash/detailing places he had applied for a job at. They wanted him to come in to talk with them, and he was looking for some money for a haircut and shave – trust me, he needed it. But I didn’t have any money to help him out this time. After talking a few minutes he moved on and went to another house where he works at to see if they had work (or money).
I felt bad for the guy, and I hope he gets his money and gets his job, that would make things easier on him.
What does this have to do with the title of this post?
Well I’ll tell you…
My fiancee used to work in one of the Emergency Rooms around town, and she saw all sorts of people come through there. Some of them were “frequent fliers,” people who would return quite often – either as hypochondriacs or homeless people who had nowhere else to go.
One of them was a homeless guy the doctors and nurses knew from his repeated visits. Probably just some guy who was down on his luck and didn’t have anywhere else to go. The breaks got him, he didn’t get the breaks.
But he did have a girlfriend.
Yes, even homeless people have lovers. Someone who loved him, who he loved. Two people who found happiness in each other.
But one winter, it was so cold in Albuquerque that she froze to death.
I don’t know what to say at this point. I thought about that after my fiancee told me the story. To love someone, and have no way to keep them safe from the elements, to not be able to stop the icy hand of Death from taking a loved one away. I wonder, what if it were us? My fiancee and I, homeless, not being able to keep the other alive while something as preventable as the weather steals them from you. I can’t imagine how that guy must have felt, it’s horrible to think that this still happens.
And it still brings tears to my eyes.
I could turn this into a political rant, but I’m not going to this time. It’s just a time to reflect, especially as the weather moves from summer into winter. I’ve been lucky to end up as I have, I think about that every day.
A lot of us are, and sometimes we forget that.