This below is a FB story from my radio pal, and comrade of decades Mike Feder, and my reply.
Yesterday, I’m riding uptown on the number 1 local and a guy gets on the train at Times Square. He’s big, overweight and filthy, wearing a worn gray shirt and dirty gray, sagging sweatpants. His shirt is unbuttoned, and his flabby chest and stomach are hanging out. He’s got a large paper cup in his hand and he’s shaking it… “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am seventeen years old and am homeless. I need some money to buy food—whatever you can afford.”
Everybody (standing and sitting) near him is either deliberately ignoring him or regarding him with varying levels of distaste…
A woman, about 40 years old, dyed blond hair, expensive looking clothes (a pink hoodie, blue jeans and black sneakers) is standing right there. She bends down, reaches into a plastic shopping bag and comes up with some purple grapes on a stem. “Here,” she says, holding them out to him. Guy looks at her, frowns, roughly pushes them away with his free hand, then turns around and resumes his begging.
The woman looks at him and says to one and all, with surprise and hurt in her voice “They’re organic!”.
The guy suddenly realizes how it all looks—him refusing free fresh food when he’s begging for food money. He walks back to the woman and starts to yell at her—“Bitch, you ruined my money thing!”
She grabs her bag and walks to another part of the car.
Now everybody is commenting on what the guy did. He’s screaming, “Fucking bitch!” The Train stops at 59th—Columbus Circle, and the woman gets off.
Muttering and cursing, the guy opens the connecting door and walks into another car.
Just another day’s ride on the Broadway local…
My comment to Mike's story.
In my year as houseless I noted the pecking order. At the top were those newly homeless who may still have jobs so can somewhat fend for themselves. That's where I was. Then those who have become resigned to the life, and are almost catatonic in despair. They do nothing, but sit. Then the players. These are folks who will act as anything crippled nuts or whatever to get a few coins. That's the guy in the story. Then at the bottom the old sick, and insane...seriously without hope dignity or rationality.
In my time I saw much death. Regular folks rarely see this since these are cleaned off the streets before rush hour. ...mostly. Though we saw them. It takes about two to three years on the streets...depending on the individual to hit the bottom.
I was found, and rescued by family, and friends so spent only near a year on what I have since called, "the Outside". This can happen to anyone. No matter your position. You can through any number of personal financial or health circumstances become Houseless.
If I live long enough I would like to read that is when the Homeless Era ends. I would like to read it's history. It's initial historic economic cultural beginnings its acme it's ending, and it's aftermath. In time it will end. Just as the Dickeneque hoards of the early industrial western have-not's in time became the working, and middle classes. Till then we all share guilt for letting this happen. Letting it go on, and on, and on.
Stay Tuned as long as you can.