Homeless In America

Posted: 9th August 2009 by Christopher Saikes in Current Affairs
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Pen Truth

Pen Truth Contributor

As I went out to get breakfast this morning I saw a sight that is becoming common in my town.  There on the corner was a woman holding a sign that read; “No work, Need Food”.  I passed three women in a matter of a quarter mile with such signs.  Yes, homeless with signs are common in Southern California, but not to this degree.  I am used to seeing disheveled men holding these signs on our streets, but not clean looking persons.  In clean I mean those that are not addicts, alcoholics or mentally handicapped.

At this point some are thinking that these must be lazy transients.  Let me relate an experience to you.  This happened about 18 years ago, while working for a company that was involved in vehicle theft recovery restoration.  On this day I was delivering a vehicle that had not only body damage, but the computer was removed so none of the electronics worked.  While on the way to the body shop I was stopped at a red light on a one way street.  On the corner was a man with a sign that read “Homeless Vet. Please Help”.  I don’t remember what I was thinking about the man, it was probably what most people thought.  Just then the vehicle died.  It was out of gas though the gauge read half full.  “Just great.” I exclaimed.

As I got out of the vehicle the man started towards me.  My initial thought was “God don’t let him ask me for money.”  He walked as though he had had a very serious back injury at some time in the past.  When he approached, He asked “What’s wrong with the vehicle?”  He was not much older than me, unshaven, short dark wavy hair, about five five and unmistakably very physically messed up. I told him that I didn’t know yet.

I decided that I would push the vehicle out of traffic.  Not too hard since I was in the lane near the curb.  He eagerly offered to help and I quickly discouraged him.  “All we need is to have some homeless guy make an injury claim against us.” I thought to myself.  As I get the vehicle against the curb and set the brake, I started to investigate what the trouble was.  Knowing that the electronics were suspect, I immediately checked the gas tank.  Laying half in the gutter I rapped on the tank.  Sure as hell, bone dry.  I must have been running on fumes.

The homeless guy asked again; “What was the trouble?”  I told him that I was out of gas only wanting him to go away.  What happened next changed my life.  This homeless man, wretched as he was, reached into his pocket and pulled out a hand full of bills.  Without counting them he held the money out toward me and said; “Do you need money for gas?”

I had always heard that God speaks to those who will listen.  God spoke to me loud and clear on that day.  Only a few years earlier I heard Ronald Reagan claim that poverty did not exist in America.  Shortly after Reagan’s proclamation funding was cut to social services.  The local county mental health facility was underfunded and soon after the homeless population exploded in my area.  “I am a recovering republican and I have not been a republican since 1992.”

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