Conflicted about the homeless

Kelsey May, Senior Writer

By Kelsey May

My conscience is done with homeless people. I wish it weren’t true! I really do, but in my old age of 22 I’ve become too skeptical to give my spare change away anymore. The last time I helped a homeless person was the last straw.

Upon returning home from brunch with my friends, a young transient couple stopped us as we were about to enter my apartment downtown. They had a dog tied to a rope. It looked cleaner than its owners.

The young woman asked me if I had any tampons. Had they asked for spare change, I would have avoided eye contact and said my usual, “Sorry, I’m a poor college student. I can’t help you.” But made out of stone I am not when it comes to helping the femmes in their time of need.

I ran upstairs and grabbed what she needed. I found some Aleve also in case her stomach hurt, as mine feels like I’m giving birth during that time of the month. I put everything in a plastic bag and ran back down the steps.

As I gave the girl the handful of helpfuls, her dog started barking and pulled the leash as a motorcyclist passed by.

“Shut up, *****!!!!!,” she yelled in the dog’s face. She turned and gave me this evil grin, laughed out a thank you and went on her way.
Yeah. Awkward. My friends and I all exchanged the same “Umm…should we kidnap that dog?” glance, but once we reached the top of the staircase didn’t bother discussing the incident.

Later that day I remembered all the times I’ve helped homeless people. I gave rides to homeless hitch hikers (and heart attacks/gray hair to my mother after telling her about my little excursions,) blankets to Vietnam veterans, spare change and leftovers to people on the street. But every time I gave anything, no matter how grateful they have been, I’ve never felt that I’ve done them any real good.

A guy in one of my classes interviewed a homeless man about the panhandling law that the city passed this year — if you beg for money in specific areas and get caught, you get fined. If you don’t pay the fine the amount increases and after that you get arrested.

The guy he interviewed spoke out against his homeless constituents. He said he was trying to make a better life for himself, and those who just sit around and drink all day are lazy and should be thrown in jail.

See! I’m not the only one! Even the homeless have attitude about it. But here’s the thing: I want to care. I see the same person sitting on Cordova on my way to the com. building every week. I want to give him change, or my jacket or a ride to Labor Force. But my cynical mind tightens my grip on my purse and assumes all he wants is a drink.

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