Sunday, January 11, 2009

Strangers on the Black Asphalt


Sometimes standing on the black asphalt and sometimes sitting, bent at the knees where he rested his elbows, he held onto his cardboard sign.
Sometimes I would see him walking up the overgrown hill behind the gas station using his makeshift sign as an umbrella in the rain.

Oliver once found one of his old discarded signs and brought it home to frame.

'Veteran. Homeless. Need Heart Surgery. Will Work Fore Money.'

Oliver said that the extra 'E' in 'Fore' , the water-logged cardboard dried by the sun & the roughly torn edges was an artistic reflection of our American culture.

One day the Sheriff came knocking on the door. He wanted to know when we had last seen the old man with the sign. It had been an unusual cold & snowy spell, so it had been a few days.
Shortly thereafter the maintenance man told me that he had found the homeless man in the electrical shed & he had apparently died of a heart attack.

Nowadays, there is a man who frequents my exit ramp with his dog & his cardboard sign. Several months ago, I took him a collar and a leash. More recently, I passed a doggies sweater and collapsible canvas dog food bowl to him. I could have taken him many more dog supplies, but instead I have a cardboard box in my trunk, within which I keep a forty pound bag of food and a scoop.

I have seen him...
crawl the hill and into the woods behind the gas station.
I could give him a lot more.
But to give him more than he can carry would be to give him a burden.
Sometimes the weight of one's own shoulder's is heavy enough...

9 comments:

Mel said...

Do you ever have moments when your brain fills with their weight and you're at a loss for words?

I'm havin' one of those...

skinnylittlesister said...

You know Mel...it's weird. I was maybe 19 when that fellow passed in the electrical shed. From the feelings I got from that experience alone, I learned that it really doesn't matter how or why someone is standing out in the elements... the fact still remains that they are.

No doubt that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and most of us are just 3-4 months (if not less)shy of losing our own homes should we lose our jobs.

You, me....we can't fix everything for everyone. And we may not have a lot to give, but imho, if we give what we can and it is appropriate...even if it's just a smile, it helps.

I watched a thingy on TV a few years back when ex-hubby had TV on all the time about this woman who had been born with a face deformity. She said she couldn't get a job because of it and that people would either stare at her or look away. A plastic surgeon worked miracles on her face pro-bono and in the interview she was asked what she appreciated most about her new face and her answer brought tears down my cheeks... she said 'eye contact & strangers smiling'. It was amazing and very touching...
the beauty of the butterfly effect.

P&L to you Mel (oh and um, it looks like I have more than made up for any loss of words you may have had ;)

Shimmerrings said...

I've recently been trying to "give what I can" too... something is better than nothing; for myself, that's been, of late, giving to organizations that distribute the money... but I also give to people, on the street, when they ask. I just can't walk away... I am not their judge and they are human beings... most people have enough to deal with, in judging their own selves. Something is always better than nothing.

Mel said...

"It really doesn't matter how or why someone is standing out in the elements--the fact still remains that they are."

No, we cannot fix everything for everyone--but what we can do to make a difference in just ONE life today--just ONE.....is small beans. It doesn't take pro-bono reconstructive surgery, it doesn't take billions of dollars.

A kind word--a smile....meeting the eyes of someone and noticing them...

NOTICING them, yaknow?


k.....now I'm getting teary....

skinnylittlesister said...

Shimmerings... even if that 'something' is not of material worth, it may mean the world to them. Smiles can move mountains and everything we say , everything we do has an affect somewhere sometime on someone...more so than we will ever possibly know.

(((Mel))) Amen Sister! My little brother has Downs and he doesn't speak, but he understands everyone else just fine. Years ago, when he was but a young boy, I took him to the mall where a pre-K teacher gawked and squawked at him. Had she been able to notice HIM she would of seen nothing but yet another child of love.
These bodies are but shells, tin foil wrappers around the chocolate kisses of our spirits...
Okay, since you got teary and I got deep, I promise next post will be light & easy!

Maithri said...

You are the light dear sister,

Much love, Much love,

Maithri

skinnylittlesister said...

Maithri...
your words are always so sweet, like poetry to my ears, but honestly I am not the light... I am a grain of sand among many and any light that comes from me is a reflection of the magnificent moon & powerful sun above. :) Much Peace, Much Love...

singleton said...

Oh God, I love you so much! And sometimes I think you have no idea how much you give....
just by telling a story....

that, sweetsisterlove, is the butterfly effect growing and growing and growing....

skinnylittlesister said...

Sister Sing... I sooooo love you! Lol, I have a lot more stories than I have moola, dog collars, leashes or canned food ;) "I remember once..."