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Wednesday, 04 June
I Am Conflicted About My Doublethink

This past week walking home, I've noticed a new fixture on the old home street: a bum, who has nestled into a new home in some bushes about thirty feet from my front gate. He's always sleeping there when I walk by, dozing peacefully on a pizza box, and it has freaked me out any number of times. First of all, most of the time walking around in the neighborhood, I generally expect the humans I encounter to be standing erect rather than in a recumbent position. So every time I catch a glance of him lying there, I think, "AAAAH! Lurking pygmies!" or "Fuck! Cheetahs in the greenery!" before I wise up and then amend it to "Oh. Bum in the bushes." And second of all, even once I realize what the prone figure actually is, I then proceed to torture myself with mental scenarios where he springs awake and snatches at my pants leg. "Vote LaRouche," I hear him croaking in my mind, "and I'll let go." "LaRouche! LaRouche for Emperor!" I mentally scream, but then I'm past him and at my gate, and I calm down.

Now here's the thing: I am pretty much a total pinko when it comes to a lot (though not all) of issues, and this is true of The Plight Of The Homeless in general. I regularly inveigh against the continued lawnmowing of social services for the needy; I howl at the ridiculous "no sitting on sidewalks" targeting legislation; and most importantly, I am endlessly generous about doling out cigarettes to those who ask (yeah, I'm all fucking heart). I try to be a good person, because it's a problem, and there are people genuinely hurting. I think in some ways we should help them a helluva lot more than we do.

So when I got home the other day, I mentioned to the wife that we had a new neighbor: a bum had found a little haven in the bushes one building over. Did I say, "Great news! The Plight Of The Homeless is setting up house in our neighborhood bushes! Let's go bring him a cheese plate." Well, no. I believe what I said was, "Some scuzzy fucker is sleeping down the street."

Classy. It's a pain in the ass to have one's abstracted ideals get into a fender-bender with NIMBY syndrome, isn't it? I don't feel particularly good about myself for saying that, but I'm not going to let it get to me much either. I didn't curse at him, or beat him up, or hassle him until he left. I just said something nasty out of earshot. But I can do better. And I will. I'm going to vote LaRouche.

Confess | Skot | 04 Jun, 2003 |

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Comments

Yeah, that's one way to deal with the homeless: kill 'em with cigs. Whatever happened to the swift sword of death?

Comment number: 003063   Posted by: Gopi on June 5, 2003 06:40 AM from IP: 66.68.72.14

I've been through the exact same thing. Moving from NC to Manhattan three years ago, I was shocked at the amount of homeless in my neighborhood. To see the most wealthy of wealthy juxtaposed with the poorest of the poor was quite disturbing. But like most New Yorkers, homelessness is something I got used to and apathetic about.

One morning I went to the ATM vestibule for cash and walked in on a homeless woman changing her underwear (ie. newspaper) and the stench of her feces was overwhelming. I was disgusted. As I left, I said to someone coming in "Be careful. There's someone in there." And I said it with a snotty snarl, too. Immediately, I was ashamed that I had become that person. Since then, while I can't financially help the homeless, I do try to treat them with respect and dignity. That's the best I can do for now.

Comment number: 003064   Posted by: Patti on June 5, 2003 07:02 AM from IP: 65.206.64.66

I lived in San Francisco for 4 months, and the homeless population there is HUGE... for the most part though, they have a good spirit about it: "Hey buddy, can you spare 100 million dollars? No? How 'bout a quarter then?" I would always give em a quarter or 2... back here in Toronto, though, I can't tell the difference between the REAL homeless people, and the dumbass suburban kids who are "slumming it". Those who REALLY need it are losing out because of the asshole kids looking to make a quick buck.

Comment number: 003065   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on June 5, 2003 07:24 AM from IP: 206.47.252.98

God bless our unique sense of American entitlement, everyone!

Comment number: 003066   Posted by: on June 5, 2003 08:20 AM from IP: 134.114.5.2

Just wanted to share a story in common: Good intentions and a bag of chex mix.

Comment number: 003067   Posted by: Derek on June 5, 2003 10:54 AM from IP: 64.166.237.10

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