So Who Are The Homeless? A story untold...

As I was riding the bus home from work one night, I noticed this woman sitting across from me.  Two girls in their 20s were sitting a few seats away laughing, rolling their eyes and pointing.  I don't think I'll ever understand what makes people feel entitled to treat others in such a terrible manner.

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She was wearing several sweaters and shirts layered under her coat.  On her legs were filthy, grey snow pants and a hot pink party skirt - you can see the tulle if you look carefully at the photo to the left.  What a heart-wrenching study in contrasts!

I don't know this woman's name or her story.  I didn't have the heart to ask her - she was utterly worn out.  I couldn't help noticing her chin bobbing down to her chest while she attempted to stay awake in vain; eventually, after several bouts of nodding off slightly before jerking upright, an exhausted sleep overtook her. 

Most heartbreaking, however, were her feet.  If you look closely, they were extremely swollen, the skin cracked and dry. Her right shoe must have had some pretty big holes because, wrapped around her foot and ankle were two plastic bags (an attempt to keep feet dry).

It just doesn't seem fair that, in addition to not having a way to stay warm and dry in cold, wet weather - something most of us take for granted - these people have to suffer through the humiliation of being ridiculed by people who are more privileged than they are.

So what did I do?  The same thing I always do.  I've learned that turning on the offenders with a few scathing comments of my own is usually bound to be an exercise in futility.  Instead, I reached into my purse and quietly took out a zip-lock bagged care package consisting of two pair of socks, toothpaste, deodorant, two granola bars, hand warmers and all-in-one wash and set it on top of the plastic grocery bag that contained the rest of her belongings.  As I returned to my own seat, I gave the girls a look of pity and slightly shook my head.  They'd been staring at me (I'm used to it by now) and as I met their eyes, they quickly looked away in silence.

'Nuff said.

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  • Thank you for what you do, and for this piece. I'm new to Chicago Now-and hence new to your blog, and am just beyond impressed/inspirited by your work. You're a voice for the voiceless-thank you.

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