I have so much holiday guilt right now. We met this guy named Aron at the doctor’s office on Friday. I didn’t know he was homeless until I asked him if he was. I went over to talk with him to let him know that I understand what it’s like to be homeless, because I was homeless as a teenager. The only difference is that he’s 35 years old and he is homeless now.
I don’t know what he is going through because when I was homeless back in 1987/88, I lived in the park for 1 or 2 weeks, then I was couching it from September to December of 1987 and in a homeless shelter in Simi Valley in 1988 from January to May. He is living on the streets, like literally homeless. No couches, no homeless shelter, literally on the streets in a much more dangerous time. To say that I know or understand what he is going through is to say I understand what it’s like to be missing a limb. I have no clue what he’s going through.
Before we left the doctor’s office, I told him about Martin’s Meats on Q and 20th in Bakersfield. They have this thing called a “Suspended Sandwich” which means that people donate money, and they give a free sandwich to a homeless person who asks for a suspended sandwich. We also gave him $7. One of the employees of the clinic gave him a piece of paper with resources for getting help, like the homeless shelter and what not. I didn’t see the paper. He also kindly asked him to leave.
We went down in the elevator with him and he walked with us out to the front. We got in the car, and he put his bag of whatever he had in a shopping cart and began walking away. He kept waving to us and with every wave, he tugged our heart strings. My partner asked if we should give him a ride to Martin’s Meats and I said we should, so we gave him a ride.
I went into Martin’s Meats ahead of him to tell Audrey, Bakersfield’s very own Mother Teresa, that I was bringing in someone for a suspended sandwich. He was getting out of the car and I waited for him in the store, but as he was getting out of the car, my partner told him not to forget his things. He told him that he wished he could come home with us. Ugh! My heart!
He ordered his suspended sandwich and Audrey wanted to take our picture for Facebook. She takes everyone’s picture, especially those who get a suspended sandwich, mainly to show people that this is where their money is going and to ask people to continue donating money to help her feed the homeless.
I hugged him as I was leaving and I told him to be safe and to be very careful and I wished him well. In my mind I was saying “God I wish we could do more, I wish we could bring you home with us and help you because you don’t deserve this.” Unfortunately, we can’t do that.
The look on my face in the picture is saying “Yay! We helped someone. We gave him money and food and we gave him an umbrella to keep him dry.” The look on his face is “They gave me $7 and brought me here for a free sandwich, but I’m still homeless.”
The look on my face right now is “I feel so bad that we couldn’t bring him home.”
After we left him at Martin’s Meats, we went to Ricky’s Retreat which is Bakersfield AIDS Project for their annual Thanksgiving dinner that they hold for their clients who have no family. I wish we thought to bring him to that dinner. He could have actually had a Thanksgiving dinner. Now I really feel like shit. At the dinner, a woman shouted for anyone who was listening to say in 1 word how thankful they are, and a few people said “Food” and I said “Roof” and she looked at me a little funny. I got up and walked over to her and told her that I was homeless as a teenager and that I am thankful every day for the roof over my head because that means I am not homeless. Meeting Aron really gave me perspective. I will never take anything for granted again.
I really wish my book did better, because if it did, I would use the money to help more homeless people get out of the situation they are in. I would love to buy a building and turn it into a homeless shelter. We already have one, but they really push religion down your throat. They are also full, so mine would be for their overflow. My dream was to build one for gay homeless kids, but I really want to help everyone. I know, I can’t save the world, but if I had the money, at least I could try to give shelter to those who need it.