Homelessness does not define your character. Sometime after I started hanging out with the homeless in Bucks County, PA, early spring, 2014, I heard and read comments of what the homeless are about.
One comment was that they are in the survival mode – that they just savagely grab things the way a wild animal does. This, interestingly, came from a Salvation Army official at the Levittown, PA community center! You would think that someone associated with an organization that has been reaching out to people who are impoverished materially and spiritually would have a sober view of the homeless. This same official was OK with the idea that, as was the case a few years back, that the homeless should be constructively kicked out of the library just because some people don’t like them there.
When I challenged the Salvation Army person’s argument, she then went on to say that they are dirty and raggedy and eat in the library. When I asked her if she ever visited the library and saw the homeless people there, she silently got huffy and dismissed the debate. And as far as them eating in the library, if there are rules against eating in the library, enforce the rules as to the individual offender. Violating a rule has nothing to do with being homeless!
Awhile back, I read a melodramatic article where a reporter painted a picture of homeless people at a shared meal for the homeless and needy savagely scrounging for food. It gave the impression that all homeless people are that way. Well, it’s only a handful of people who do this, and the perpetrators are mostly those who are not homeless! There has been an effort to curb the actions of these savages, who could ruin the meals for those civilized people who socialize with each other and are fed physically and spiritually.
Another stereotype of the homeless is that they have mental problems. Again, there is just a handful of people who could use a ride on The Disoriented Express. There’s one, whom I call Janis Joplin, who sings and talks to herself and is basically anti-social, treating others as if they are mannequins, for whom she does not cotton to moving out of the way, and doesn’t practice other social civilities.
One thing I know for sure is that many of the homeless in Bucks County are smoking fiends. And some of them are rude; some of these smokers stand right in front of the doors puffing away! Many places have buffer zones. We should not need buffer zones for smokers; they should have enough consideration and good character to keep their distance on their own. Just because they want to ruin their health and burn a hole in their pocket, we should not have to be subjected to that stinky second hand smoke. Years ago, a woman told me that when she was about to enter a building with her daughter, who suffered from asthma, past a gang of smokers who gathered just outside the door, huffing and puffing away, her daughter suffered an asthma attack as the result of the concentrated smoke!
A friend of mine said he doesn’t give people any money if he sees that they smoke. Smoking is not a necessity and, by fiat, you enable bad habits if you give smokers money.
Clash of the barbarians
At one shared meal, guests started forming lines from opposite directions. As Gomez Adams approached from the opposite direction, walking with his cane, he plowed into Piglet, almost knocking her down. It was poetic justice, as at an earlier meal at another place, as Piglet was pulling her cart, she plowed into someone’s walker that was sticking out a little between the rows of tables, with enough space for people to walk by but not enough room for the cart. Piglet almost knocked the cart over!
In an earlier blog, I announced a contest for Noble Savage of 2019. Lately, Birdman, the frontrunner, hasn’t been to the meals. Maybe he’s smug that he is a shoe in for the Noble Savage award. Birdman’s most savage act is that he creeps around the tables where they are eating, and snatches up their food! On one occasion, this predator tried to take the salt and peppers and on another tried to snatch up metal tableware. Birdman’s been banned from a few meals, and there are watchful eyes on him at others.
Who the homeless really are is addressed in There Are Homeless In Bucks County; A Journey with the Homeless, by Yours Truly. Among the issues I tackle is the one that homeless people allegedly need mental health help, offered freely by the mental health hustlers.