Wednesday, June 07, 2006

SOMEBODY'S BABY

I work on a busy medicine floor in a large hospital in my city. Since we are a medicine floor, we get a lot of the homeless and mentally ill population off the streets. Frankly these people scare me. I am not sure what is a reality to them and how exactly I can communicate and interact with them. I am not a nurse.

Last night as I was heading down to my airline job, I stopped for gas on a very busy street. As I got out of the car, I saw a mentally ill homeless man talking to himself. He was wearing a tattered filthy coat even in 90 degree weather. His hair was long, grimy and matted. His clothing which was also filthy was ripped. On his feet were shoes and no socks……and he was heading right for me!!! Panic as I was filling the tank of gas…. My first thought was how much gas do I really need before I get back into my safe air conditioned car. Thankfully he veered off and crossed the street. I headed back towards the same direction on my way to work but with one stop….. for dinner at Carl’s Jr. for the dollar spicy chicken sandwich. As I was turning into the parking lot, I see this man once again but lying on the grassy knoll next to the street. Again I am in a safe comfortable cool car ready to fill my tummy up with a meal and a cold drink. Something kept nagging at me…. But I ignored my thoughts and proceeded to order my single dollar sandwich. Still something was nagging at me. As I approached the pick up window I gave in and ordered a cheese burger meal deal with extra large coke with ICE and lots of packages of catsup. Panic hit right after I ordered. How was I going to give this to this CRAZY man???? My heart was beating and my knees got weak but I forced myself to approach this man and offered this meal to him….. I am not a Pollyanna with my thoughts that this meal would save him from the brutality of the streets….I just wanted to somehow ease a hot day and surely an empty stomach. I was not prepared for this reaction…. He screamed at me in a crazy language while gesturing in the air to GET AWAY!!!! I set the cold drink and bag of food on the sidewalk in front of him. He promptly got up and threw it into the gutter. WHAT????? I just do not understand this… I am puzzled and bewildered. After four hours of work, I passed by the small grassy knoll….. It was 11:45 pm and he was lying in the same spot curled in a ball. I saw that next to him is the drink and bag. Maybe he was able to see thru his insanity and enjoy a cool drink and a warm burger and fries….

Now I cannot get him off my mind…. lying there on a grassy knoll is a man that at one time was SOMEBODY’S baby….. It just breaks my heart.

11 comments:

Julie said...

So many of the homeless population are mentally ill and it's hard to understand why they would choose that or act like he did to you.

I feel bad for him. But kudos to you for having the courage to try and make his day a little easier.

Johnny said...

What you did, although symbolically, was more than most people would do. Good for the soul.

Christi said...

I think it was great that you followed your heart and were sensitive to that nagging feeling. Sometimes these people have other forces at work in their life that get in the way of them being able to recieve help, obviously! but you pused past his rejection and reached him anyway. Good for you!

Eliza2006 said...

You are a good girl Lisa! I'm proud to know you.

Tiffany

Donna & Joe said...

You have a huge heart and overcame your fear to approach the man. I would like to believe that he actually appreciated the food and drink and enjoyed it after you left. He's probably been on the street way too long and didn't know how to react to you approaching him.

Good for you...you're a good and caring person!

Ava Baby said...

I had a similar experience. There was this older mentally ill, homeless man that I had seen around many times. I was in Starbucks and he came in to buy a small cup of coffee so I asked the cashier to add a few bagels to my order for him. Well, he looked at me like I was nuts and flat out refused them. It is very sad to see any human being in such a bad state.

Holly said...

I read this and know exactly those feelings. I started doing that a few years ago, and it gets easier each time.
It gives you a glimpse into that world that we can only have nightmares about.
I never give them money, but always offer food. Been screamed at too - but more times I think they've been grateful (in their own way).
Like Johnny said, its a very enlightening experience.

That was awsome, Lisa!

Lanny and Heather said...

Same thing happend to me...I tried to be nice and help a man and he totally chewed me out. Scared me to death. At least we tried though, right?

PromiseKeepersDaughter said...

What a beautiful story, you are such a kind hearted person.Thanks for sharing! He might have been more afraid of you than you were of him.

Tamara said...

what a sweet story- I really admire you, I'm a scardy cat of "scary looking" people too, except I wouldn't have ignored my fear like you did and reach out in a kind geasture- way to go, you are an inspiration for unexpected acts of kindness.

Melissa said...

What a sad AND beautiful story. This world needs more people like you in it.