If there is one thing I’ve learned from reading Jason’s posts it’s that he always sticks to his opinion. And he is not afraid to say it like it is. Sometimes, though, after a little while, you come to the conclusion that what you’ve said might not be what you think now any longer.
It’s been a while since I wrote a somehow open letter in regards to an encounter with a homeless person. Back then I had a clear opinion. And I for sure didn’t hold back.
Well, things change, you know. We change and so do our opinions.
It was actually one of Jason’s posts that triggered me to re-write the mentioned open letter. To vocalize how much my point of view has changed. While I still believe it’s not my personal fault someone’s homeless I came to a realization: Sometimes it’s nobodies fault! Not even, or maybe especially not the homeless person’s fault.
I came to the realization that sometimes life is a bitch and rather than treating you with downs and ups you might get handed only a downward spiral. A spiral that is so damn hard to escape.
I came to the realization that some people somehow manage to make an appearance, to groom themselves in a manner you would never expect them to struggle financially and also mentally. I realized that even in the darkest moments we put on that mask and play our role. Letting your guard down is one of the hardest things ever.
And so is asking for help.
For those of you, and I bet it’s probably all of you, let me give you a quick rundown of what happened back then that triggered a post of which I’m not proud of.
My family and I were on vacation in a beautiful place in the States and as we do not have anything even remotely close to your Cold Stone Creamery it’s a special treat for us to go there and enjoy an ice cream. While my husband was quickly running to a nearby store to get some groceries, the kids and I found a place outside and started eating our treats. And then that guy approached us.
Now, let me just quickly tell you that I have previously bought food for homeless people because I do actually feel better if I buy them something rather than giving them my leftover.
That guy though, didn’t look like a homeless person at all. He seemed clean and groomed okay and the cloths he was wearing were not at a point where I would have thought he’s struggling that much. But I knew he must live on the streets as he had all his other belongings in a trolley and it was his shoes that maybe gave him away. While I was watching him from far first I was thinking about heading inside to get him an ice cream. But then things took a turn.
He stopped right next to my daughter and started staring at her ice cream. She got intimidated, scared even. He kept telling her (she was probably just about 7 then) that he would love to have an ice cream too and that she would never be able to finish it. He kept telling both of my kids that he would like to have their ice creams. It was the way he looked at them that made me blow up. It was his body language and the way he looked at my children. Then he started demanding the ice creams of my children. And then he actually tried to grab my daughter’s. It was then when I told him “No!”
I’m still torn between thinking it was the right reaction and thinking that I should have been kinder. But I told him to get lost. I told him that my daughter was far from being finished and that it was her ice cream. I’m glad that my husband arrived in that moment and very calmly said :“You’re too pushy, man”, building himself up between the guy and us. We left and I through the remaining ice cream out. At this point it was more of a principal for me. Something that kind of bugs me now.
See, I think it was not the right thing to do for him. And as a mother, or a parent in general, you stand up for your kids, especially when they are scared. In that moment I was scared too. I had encountered other homeless people before. People who approached you in a different way. And I have given out food and cloths and so on to them. It’s really not about that. He was just so pushy.
I will never argue with my reaction on the day. I would most probably not change a thing I did that day.
What I struggle with are my thoughts and what I wrote about it afterwards. Looking back now I believe that it was just his way of asking. Some people struggle with finding the right way of doing it. Others have mental issues we are not aware of and things just come out in a very different way to what we are used to. And maybe some people just get so frustrated about the fact that they need to ask for something that should be so normal that they become angry. Or pushy. Or rude.
As I have mentioned before, asking for help is incredibly hard. It makes you vulnerable. I don’t know how often this person had to ask for help. How often he had to ask for something to eat or for cloths, for a place to sleep, shower. I don’t know how often he had to beg. And I most certainly don’t know how often he was turned down. I have no idea how often he got a “no” as answer.
It does something to you.
When you need to ask for help you have to let your guard down. You have to let your pants down. You stand there as vulnerable as hell, hoping that you will get help. Hoping that things will change. And you feel bad about yourself. It’s most certainly not something you will walk away from with a smile on your face. Nothing to be proud of.
I still agree with my comment about it being about the way he asked and that a different way of asking would have made a difference. But as I said, we do not know the entire story. We do only know what we see and then we paint a picture. It might not be what it’s truly about.
Sometimes someone does something wrong and has to pay for it afterwards. But sometimes things just go wrong and you find yourself in a situation you struggle to get out of. I judged back then. Harshly judged. I wrote the post in this judgmental mindset. For weeks now I thought about it. I turned every sentence around and I realized how wrong I was.
“Don’t judge people without knowing what kind of options they had to choose from.” One of the best advises I was given in my life and yet it’s a difficult one to follow suit. Although it was always something I kept in mind, I realized that I need to remind myself of it in any situation I encounter.
I can re-write my post. I wish some people could re-write the moment it all went wrong for them so they would not have to deal with the mess they suddenly find themselves in.
Hi, I’m Sandra and my blog is called A Momma’s View about many things. I share my thoughts about being a homeschooling expat in Down Under but also my thoughts about life and what goes on in this world.