Thanksgiving, homelessness and… humanity.

Its been a long time since I blogged something. Today, the 28th of November 2013, is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.
Wishing everyone a very pleasant and wonderful Thanksgiving and a hopeful Black Friday so that you get what you want. πŸ™‚

I was going through Facebook and saw lots of posts of people happy with family, spending time with friends and enjoying Turkey and stuff but something always didn’t make sense to me since last year when I came here. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day the people here give back food and pleasantries to Native American Indians, as far as I know. The strange thing about this festival is that, so far, I haven’t seen anyone doing so! American families get together, enjoy time together and seem to have a good time overall but none of the ones I know so far (I haven’t seen any… maybe there are. I could be wrong. My apologies for that.), has invited a Native American Indian to their place and actually, ‘thanked’ them.

This thing has always puzzled me since last year but I haven’t had the opportunity to actually ask an American this question always wondering if I could be wrong!  The second thing which hit my mind was, how do homeless people here enjoy Thanksgiving?

t1larg.homeless.help

I had the fortune to meet a homeless veteran (fortunate because it opened my perspective on how people get treated here.) here a few days back and this has been bugging me a lot since then. I always wanted to pen this down, but I never got the urge to do so till now. I was at McDonald’s and having my usual 1$ stuff: Hot n Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Small Fries and a couple of cookies with coffee (since I skipped lunch) when this old yet humble person came over and sat in front of me.

I looked at him and smiled. He smiled back. I resumed my late-evening-lunch when he interrupted and said these lines:

Pardon me, I don’t mean to interrupt your eating… I am not a thief. I don’t want your money but, can you… please spare me some change?

I knew that was coming, as usual from any homeless person you meet here, so I replied back:

How much do you need Sir?

Me and my friend who is sitting over there (pointed to the place obstructed by the trash can) would like to have a quarter pounder with some cheese on it, so it would be nice if you could spare me … (checked his coins spread out over the table across me) a dollar and 75 cents.

I knew that I had a dollar somewhere in my bag and so I said:

I can spare a dollar. That is all the change I have now.

I took out the note and gave it to him. He didn’t look too happy with it and began to mutter with his face buried by his hands:

I am so sorry. It’s just too humiliating to ask someone for money… You don’t know how bad I feel.

I felt sorry for him but that was all I had (at least that is what I thought!). I am not good at consoling people and so I just said that it was alright and I didn’t feel bad about it.

He looked at me and said:

Can I have some of those fries you are eating?

I felt awkward for a second, but then I realized how hungry he must be and so I shifted my tray to his side and let him have some. I was just amazed at how humble this person was even though he was asking stuff from me. Later, we started talking about the prices and the tax  levied by McDonald’s, how much the Chicken sandwich costed and how he could get it for him as well as his friend. Soon enough, he left my seat saying:

Thank you, big guy.

I said to myself:
“Me? Big guy? No way! I now know what life has taught you to be… humble and more humane than most humans even realize!”

I heard him go over the counter and asked for the sandwich. I could hear the counter people saying something to him but I clearly remember him saying:

We are not gangsters. Me and my friend just want to have some food here.

Those words hurt me. I really felt bad when he said those words. It was as if he was desperately trying to get acknowledged for having some food at a place with money on hand!
After he placed his order, he got his stuff, turned around and came back to sit. On his way back, there was this cute little toddler. He looked at the mother and said :

Is that your kid ma’am? She is very cute.

The lady just looked him, thanked him and began to look away with a frown on her face. I wondered why it was so hard for her or even the other people to just acknowledge him as a human being! I really felt bad and thought I should get them a packet of Fries at the least.

I went over to the counter and told the guy there to get one and give it to those people to which the guy immediately replied:

Wait, aren’t those guys the homeless ones? Are they still here?

I was so shocked when he said that! He called out his manager and made them leave in front of everyone else! I felt so miserable, so unjust and so inhumane! What the heck is wrong with these people!? I am just trying to help them and they shoo them away? This is ridiculous!

He then asked me if I still wanted to get the Fries. I looked at him with a frown and said “Of course I do!”. I took the pack and slipped it into the hands of the second person whom I hadn’t spoken with. He looked at me with his gleaming eyes and said “Thank you Sir!” with a smile while the person I spoke to humbly was taking a few tissues and slowly left the place without a word!

I still feel bad about that incident. Later I realized that I had another 1$ within my wallet somewhere which, if I had given, or even if I hadn’t asked for that extra Fries, would’ve made those poor humble humans eat peacefully without being thrown out in the middle!

I saw a ring on the guy’s finger when we were conversing and I wanted to ask him about his well-being but I stopped myself from making him feel more insulted.

Young-person-homeless-hun-007

Life really changes people.  The amount of humbleness these guys have learnt from life is far more than what we humans can learn in a lifetime and yet, we never acknowledge them and instead, look down on them. These days even dogs get more respect than human beings! Maybe it was their fault for falling down in life… or maybe it never really was theirs in the first place! We would never know as long as we don’t treat them as equals and ask them about it, but very few here seem to like doing that.

Instead, all that they worry about is their car, their Electronics and last of all, Turkey!

While I was searching for a good image to put up for this post, I came across this image. This really portrays the essence of what I wanted to say.

homeless-not-hopeless_coral-gables_1-11-11_aI really wish I could help as many people as I can, but being an International student from India with just around 150$ for food each month, imposes a huge restriction on how many people I can help this way. Nevertheless, I try my best to help them as and when I can. When a person my age, with my financial restrictions can do so much, I am very sure that someone who is much more sound financially, can do at least this much, let alone much better.

Anyways, I hope you, dear reader, had a wonderful Thanksgiving Turkey and wish you all the best in your quest to get what you want on Black Friday while I keep praying that someone out there, give a morsel of Turkey to the poor less clad but more humane,  cold struck HUMAN BEINGS out there.

Here’s me wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving, a very lucky Black Friday and a very pleasant Christmas. πŸ™‚

 

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