Anyone who’s unemployed knows that it’s REALLY important to get out of the house at least once a day to keep the cabin fever at bay.
About twice a week I stop by the local Starbuck’s to sit out front, read the paper, and feel like I’m part of the real world. I started with a splurge of a caramel frappuccino but, as our funds are slowly drying up, have changed that to a plain old cup of joe.
There are some regulars who greet me; retired guys and those few who drive up in their really nice cars, wearing their jogging suits, and taking a mid-day break from whatever it is they do to afford their life style. Then there’s Glenn.
I initially thought he was just one of the regulars. I’d greet him, sometimes we’d relax out in front engaging in some small talk about sports, the weather, whatever. But, as I got to know him I found that he’s homeless. He sleeps around the corner behind the big theater air conditioner unit. He doesn’t bother anyone and the barristas keep him going with free coffee, letting him take up space to charge his cell phone and surf the web – the phone itself doesn’t work because he can’t afford to buy minutes for it. When the pizza guy across the street tries to deliver a pie and there’s no one home he’ll give it to Glenn. Otherwise it’s dumpster diving for food for this guy.
He’s been homeless for the last three or four months because of some bad decisions on his part (he freely admits this) and just rotten luck. But, he’s always looking for some income. He’s currently working one day a week cleaning bathrooms at the convention center, here in town. The other day he told me that someone had asked him to build a storage shed for him and asked if I’d like to make a few bucks by helping out with the project. And, he’s applying for anything he can find that will keep him busy and, hopefully, get him off the street.
Through it all, though, he keeps his sense of humor and some perspective on it all. He told me the other day that he’s not sure why he can’t get a break but that there must be some reason and he’s not going to get mad about it. He just keeps plugging away.
Meanwhile, I’ve invited him to stop by the house a couple of times a week for a shower and shave, to do his laundry, and a good breakfast or lunch. If I were in his spot I’d probably resent this guy who can do that little bit but won’t offer the spare bedroom and just lets me sleep in the alley, but I see no hint of that in him. Meanwhile, I wonder why I’m reluctant to do a little more for him. I guess I’ve learned not to trust people too much. We’ll see how it goes when the weather turns cold, maybe I’ll change my mind and start to do more for the guy.
Right now, though, I feel that he’s helping me more than I’m helping him. If I could be as serene as he seems to be about my situation as he is of his I’d sleep better at night, in my comfortable bed, while Glenn’s out there in a cardboard box.