Friday, September 02, 2011
Caught in the Rain
One of the constants in New York City is the homeless. And one constant within that world is seeing the same homeless. Most are battling with drug addiction, clinical depression, and any other number of physical and/or mental disabilities, making it very difficult for those individuals to climb out of the hole into which they have fallen.
I have never battled with severe depression or a feeling of general hopelessness. The brief bouts of depression that we all encounter are enough to provide a glimpse into that dark world of the defeated spirit. And, to be honest about it, how much hope can we hold out to a homeless person? In some cases, they may have been well-schooled and may have had a career. But what about the person who had not even graduated from high school and has no marketable skills at all?
As an employer, I am saddened to see people in this state. What is the possibility of an individual cleaning themselves up, reschooling, or training and going out to compete against others in the job market? Who would hire someone who is formerly homeless with a poor track record over someone with a better work history? Business owners generally hire on merit and qualification, not on a philanthropic basis.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2007, I wrote a story about a homeless woman, Stephanie, whom I had seen on a regular basis in SoHo. Since that time, I have seen her in the Village, albeit much less frequently. I have often said hello, reminding her of who I was. She generally acknowledged that, but I have no idea whether she really remembers me.
I caught up with Stephanie recently on the weekend of our recent tropical storm. She looked much cleaner and better dressed than I have ever seen her. I complemented her and she thanked me. She said she had been spending more time in shelters. I asked if she was a drug user, and she said no. Our conversation was quite short.
I knowthat misfortune has befallen Stephanie, and as I parted, I had no interest in being disingenuous and leaving her with some cute aphorism laden with false hopes. I went for something useful within her capability: Don't get caught in the rain.
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