I see every day the same sad faces and hear every day the same heartbreaking stories from the people I meet on the road to my bus stop. “I have no food, no job and no place of my own,” they say, “but some years back I had food, clothing and a rented apartment. I am homeless now.” These people collect plastic or glass bottles and empty metal cans. I wonder how much plastic and metal they need to collect before they can exchange empties for food or clothing. These people are not in good health. They pick up leftover sticky food from the trash bin and lick the food to test if it is edible. They barely have on clothes sufficient for the weather. Sometimes I carry extra fruit and clothing to share with them before I board my bus to work.
Once an old homeless person said to me, “ I used to have a job. Then I got sick. I lost my job and used up all my savings on medicines and hospital bills. I lost my wife and child too. I couldn’t support them. Now I am at the mercy of passersby. Sometimes I look at the sky and beg for guidance.”
The point is simple. In Washington lawmakers are balancing the budget on the backs of the needy unfortunate people, I meet on the walk to my bus stop. These are real people without food, shelter or health coverage. The sidewalks and bus stops are their bedroom and bathroom.
I hope someone in power will understand the pang of hunger, the chill of damp weather and the nausea of interminable sickness. I hope someone in power will feel a wave of empathy for those who dwell on pavements. I hope someone in power will remember that he or she could equally well be discards from an uncaring society, but for the grace of God.