A year ago I got off my motorcycle and was getting ready to go into a grocery store when I was approached by a drifter. This drifter was in his early 20's and was soft spoken and had what seemed like a pretty gentle spirit.
"Can you help me?" he asked. I asked him what he needed help with. I'm not against helping anyone in need.
"My girlfriend and I are homeless and she's sick." A reasonable enough request really though you'll have to pardon me, I'm a bit of a skeptic.
I asked him where his girlfriend was and he told me they were staying in a motel off of Highway 99. The next thing I wanted to know was what was wrong with her.
"Uh, I don't know." He replied. This was not the answer I was looking for but one I half expected.
So I spoke plainly to him:
"Look dude, maybe I can help you but you have to cut the bullshit for a minute, okay?" He nodded and said he would.
He then told me that he and his girlfriend were homeless and had a lot of problems and all he needed was cash. I asked him if he planned to buy drugs with it. He said he did not do drugs. I told him it was too bad because I had some and was willing to give them to him. (a complete lie) He then sounded interested all of a sudden. So while I had his attention I gave him some advice.
I told him that I had problems and I had money. I asked him why my problems hadn't gone away...after all I had a bank account. He thought about it and said "I guess everyone has problems."
I told him I wasn't going to give him money because it wouldn't solve his problems and it wouldn't solve mine. He then stood there waiting for me to give him drugs (that I didn't have) and I finally said, "You're not getting any drugs either, not from me." He respectfully walked away and thanked me for my time. This man was probably the coolest transient I've met.
Just last week I ran into him again in front of the same store and this time he was with his girlfriend. He was asking shoppers for money and then he saw me.
"I'm sorry to bug you again but could you help us." He obviously remembered me from a year ago. Here we both were again. Not much had changed apparently in either of our lives. He was still trying to score some cash for a bag and I was still buying corndogs at the grocery deli.
I told him that I really didn't feel like giving him any money as I didn't think it would solve any of his troubles. "That's what he told me last time. " He said leaning toward his girlfriend. He clearly remembered what I told him. He thanked me and took off.
Last night I was taking boxes of books to a used bookstore in another town and trading them in for store credit. When I came out of the store there was my favorite homeless guy. He came up to me to bum cash and finally recognized me.
"Why do I keep running into you?" He asked.
"Maybe I'm someone you should really listen to." I told him.
"I know." He chuckled a little bit and walked off. He passed by several other people without bumming.
Next time I see him I'll probably just punch him.