Winter has arrived a month early here. It is cold, windy, rainy and just miserable. I’m not complaining. I have a warm house to go to, warm clothes, food to eat and a bed to sleep in.
As I hopped the bus that takes me up town to my office, I stared out of the window at the people bent against thethis morning. It is nasty outside and I’m on a nice warm bus.
The bus stopped at aand I just happened to look out of the window. I felt sad and a bit guilty at the same time. There, huddling inside the covered stop, were men trying to stay warm. There were three of them – huddled in that bus stop with people who were waiting to get on the bus. There weren’t young men nor were they old. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you their ages. They were . They had that aged look that a lot of homeless share. Some had a few more layers of clothing than others. One man barely had enough to cover him as he lay down on the bench with his arms crossed over his chest to keep warm. It looked like he was wearing slippers on his feet – slippers, on a day like today. Imagine.
I could not take my gaze off of those men – I wasn’t staring per se, I was trying to imagine how it would feel to be that cold, without somewhere warm to go…to be homeless. That’s when I felt that twinge of guilt. I am not that cold (as I sat there in my nice warm coat, scarf and hat on a heated bus), I have someplace to go that is warm and I am not homeless. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be that cold without respite.
As I rode up J Street to my destination stop, I continued looking out the window. My gaze was drawn to the men and women who were homeless – some pushing carts, some crowded in the covered bus stops, others standing in doorways huddled against the wind. Some with so many layers of clothing on they looked larger than I’m sure they were; some with hardly enough to shield them from the chill of the wind. All of them were homeless, all of them cold.
They are always there, I know it, and I’ve seen them. I just didn’t “see” them…until this morning. I saw them because I happened to turn my head and “look” out of the bus window today.