Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homeless at home

Finally, after all the traveling, I am back in my own territory.  Sure, the bed at the Hilton was much better a quality mattress than is mine at home.  But, I slept much better here.  There is no place like home, indeed.

Not on the road meant eating at home.  I can have eggs with feta cheese then.  But, oh, I first have to get eggs and feta, and more.

It was time to visit the store.

The rain was back, with a blustery wind too.  But, the mind tolerates that because of the awareness that winter is now long gone.  The cold and dark days, and the long hours of the night, are already distant memories.  The days will get longer. And slowly warmer.  Life has returned.

As I walked into the store, I looked across at the checkout counters.  None of my friends were at work.  I suppose it was because I was at the store at an hour that I am usually never there.  The same store without my friendly checkout clerks seemed so much an alien place.  I hurriedly gathered the supplies and didn't bother to engage in any chit-chat with the clerk on duty with whom I have no relationship and nor did I feel like initiating one.

The drizzle and the breeze felt refreshing.  The familiar natural elements compensated for the oddly alien feeling when inside the store.  The rain has become so much a part of my life here that I miss it when it does not sprinkle for a few days.  I tire from the sun and the warmth, and look forward to the dark clouds.

A smallish figure on a small wheelchair approached me.  In the dimly lit parking lot, it was not clear whether it was a child or an adult.  As we got closer to each other, it was clear--a small built woman, whose arms and legs were either not fully formed or had gone through amputation maybe?

"I hate to bother you, sir.  I am homeless and new to Eugene.  Any way you can help?"

The richest country that the planet has ever known.  Yet such sights are far from uncommon.  How could this be possible?  How do we let this happen?  Why do we tolerate such injustice?  How am I supposed to respond?  At least if she were able bodied, I could pretend that I did not hear her and keep walking. Or, politely tell her a no.  But, she was no able-bodied adult.  Not only the wheelchair but a lot more.

I looked into my wallet. Will one dollar be enough, I asked myself.  How about two?  There was no way I was going to give her the only twenty dollar bill that I had.  I had established for myself that it was going to be number between one and twenty.  How does one decide in such a situation?

I cursed the government. I pay taxes. I expect the government to use the revenue to take care of my fellow humans in this country. Instead of doing that, my government spends gazillions on the military in order to bomb the shit out of countries and send them back to the stone age.  A gazillion for defense, but ask for a couple of millions for some homeless program and they cry poverty. And I am forced to then deal with this reality on a windy and rainy night at the grocery store parking lot.  Pox on the war-mongering demagogues!

I spotted a five-dollar note. So, that was the number between one and twenty. She said thanks, and rolled away.

At least I have my arms.
My legs.
A home.
A car.
A career.
Damn, I have everything.
I am one of the rich!


Ramesh said...

We are indeed very very rich and fortunate. I thank the Lord (and you might thank sheer luck !) for the honour and privilege. And hopefully I will never forget to marvel at my good fortune and learn to be more considerate of those not so fortunate.

Its very sad how we as a species spend incredible amounts on arms and drugs when so many are so poor. Our species has a long way to go.

Shachi said...

Well, there's people like you and Ramesh and I'm thankful for that!

Anne in Salem said...

And family, and friends, and a fully capable brain, and, and, and . . .
Yes, much for which to be thankful.

Sriram Khé said...

Ah yes, we are three like-minded people here, thankful for the awesome things that we have. We are lucky, indeed, with how the dice rolled in our favor.
And, of course, thanks to you three also ;)

Ajay said...

On the same anti war note

Ajay said...

On the same anti war note

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.