I never knew how difficult it could be to find homeless people. This past Sunday my best friend and I decided that we would head out to San Francisco and feed the homeless. On Friday I went to the local grocery store and purchased about two pounds of sliced ham and two loaves of bread. Just to give them a bit of variety I selected a white loaf and a wheat loaf. Sunday morning instead of heading out to church I placed the sandwiches into sandwich size Ziploc bags and headed out to the city.
To our surprise as we exited the Bart station where normally groups of homeless people are standing around there seemed to not be a single homeless woman or man in sight. I looked over at my best friend in bewilderment, “Where are all the homeless people?” On this particular stop there are so many usually there. The only thing we could think is that they went home. I mean obviously that is not possible as they would not be considered homeless but we searched and searched AND searched for homeless people to feed AND we COULD NOT FIND THEM! Where could they have possibly gone? We expected to be able to distribute these sandwiches within minutes. But no, we walked block by block in search of the homeless to feed. We looked in the corners of businesses since it was cold but we did not find the homeless. Then we started to look for people that could be homeless to give the sandwiches to, but unless they really looked homeless how were we supposed to know? You can’t just waltz up to anybody that looks a bit disheveled and dirty and ask, “Are you homeless?”
We decided to go with obvious clues. If they had one of those big carts full of belongings then we gave them a sandwich. If they had a cup out asking for change, they got a sandwich. There was one cart that we saw near a McDonalds so we figured where there is a cart there will be a homeless person, right? NO, the guy left his cart! So we left the sandwich on his cart and walked away to search for more homeless people to feed. After being cold and dreary from our pursuit of the homeless we decided to head to Starbucks for some java. Once we warmed up and rejuvenated our systems with lattes we headed out to look for more homeless to feed. We got lucky being able to distribute what we could and as we approached the Bart station we saw a man fiddling with the sandwich that we left on the cart. In our excitement we rushed over to give him a few more. We approached cautiously and asked, “Would you like another sandwich?” Being homeless does not take away ones sense of humor. The man looked at us suspiciously and asked, “You left this?” We shook our head yes delighted that he found the sandwich and to our amazement he snuffed his nose and tossed the sandwich on the newspaper stand and started to walk away. Before our feelings got hurt he looked back at us to see our reactions and cracked a smile, “Just kidding,” he said. All of the breath I had been holding inside my chest exhaled in relief. We gave him about three more sandwiches and headed to the train.
In the end we had sandwiches left over hoping we would see more homeless on the train ride back home. We did not. When we arrived home I placed the left over sandwiches in the fridge and took two with me to work the next day. I remembered seeing a homeless man under the bridge the last time I went to work. As I walked by him the next morning I asked if he would like the sandwiches. He took them.
Feeding the homeless wasn’t bad at all. Finding them was a challenge. Next time I think we will feed them when it is warm out. I think they find shelter when it is cold.
Photo Credit: Licky
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