Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Street Corner Vets

Sorry about the poor picture quality, but a picture from the phone is the best I could do...
This is a scene I see every day. Coming off the interstate on my commute home, this man is standing in the same spot. Every day. With the same sign, same bike. His sign says "Disabled Vet. Needs Help"

I have no doubt that he's disabled. What you can't see in this picture that I saw every day throughout the summer, is that he has a prosthetic leg. The right one, I believe. In the summer, he wore shorts every day, no doubt to send the message home that he is disabled.

Most days, I see several people hand him money.

I truly have mixed emotions about this.

I do feel sorry for this man and his circumstances. I do wish I could help him. I'm sure others feel the same way, and thus give him money.

But I don't know his true circumstances. His sign doesn't claim that he's homeless.

I can't afford to give him any money. Not just because I don't have any extra to spare (which I truly don't) but also because if I do it once, I feel like he'll expect it again. Since I see him everyday. I can't help but wonder when he sees my car, if he thinks to himself, "I know she won't give me anything. I see her every day, and she never has."

There's the whole societal dilemma as well... Most local cities discourage people from giving the homeless money. You always hear that they'll use it on alcohol. I don't know if that's true or not, and it's not my place to decide what he's going to use the money for.

But I also can't help but wonder how much money he makes. He's on a good busy corner. Places himself there during rush hour. Holds up a compelling sign. And waits for people to hand him cash. Every day. And they do. Every day. He's obviously intelligent enough to know the best times to be there.

And he's not the only one. Being very close to a Veteran's Affairs hospital, there are these images on many corners near the interstate within a few miles.

It's obvious that I'm better off than he is. I have a car, all my limbs, a job and a home.

Should I feel guilty that I don't give him any money? Should I feel uncomfortable when he looks at me as I wait for the light to turn green? How do you all feel when you see people like this on the corners? How do you handle it?


1 comment:

kimmyd said...

I too have mixed emotions. I gave that guy money once. Only because he obviously is disabled. If a guy looks scuffy with only a homeless sign I am less likely. Sometimes it depends on the day and if I get stuck at the light or whatever. It has become such a normal scene these days that I don't feel that guilty. Only a little.....