Why Write about Bums?

    People may be wondering why I'm writing a story about homeless people. Crook Takes Pawn (or CTP as fuzzywuzzy666 has coined the acronym) talks a lot about people down on their luck, or living in their vehicles.
    When I have empty pop cans, or liquor bottles, I try to leave them in a plastic shopping bag, hanging from the end of the dumpster. That way, the homeless people can take them and cash them in. I figure I'd lighten up the poor bastard's struggles if they can just grab them without having to sift through knee-high garbage. The cans are always taken. Harriet Tubman had her underground railroad, and I guess I have my underground pop can dispensary.
    I remember once around Christmas, I was heading to my car to meet up with a buddy of mine, and there was a man rummaging through the dumpster. My parking spot is at the crest of a hill, near the garbage. (A fitting place for me, I know :P )
    The man was obviously embarrassed. He ceased his trash scavenger hunt as I unlocked my car. I felt immediate sympathy for the guy. I had a car, and a place to sleep. Where was this guy gonna turn in? I had seen homeless people dozing in the city library chairs until the place closed. It was public space, and no one seemed to bother them. But the library closed at 8pm. Where did they go from there???
    I grabbed several cans from my car. I drive a lot to go to school, so there is a lot of cans and discarded food wrappers. The soda bottles were in plentiful supply in my back seat. I put them in a sack and made my way over to the homeless man. He turned hesitantly, just being cautious, I'm sure.
    "here you go, dude," I said and offered up the bag.
"Thanks man," he said, and I could detect the stuffed-up mucus that was preventing his membranes from getting chapped and cracked. Iowa winters are frigid, usually. This past winter was an exception, but normally it's an ordeal of frost.
    WIthout thinking, I tossed up the bag to close the short gap between us. There was a 2 liter bottle in the bag which I thought would give it enough shape to be caught easily. His hands fumbled awkwardly for the bag, but dropped it. THe bottles clattered like plastic rattles.
    "Oh, man, my hands are fucking frozen," they homeless man said. I could detect the anguish in the guy's voice. The unsureness. Would he survive the night? WOuld a finger succumb to frostbite?
    I wish I could tell you that I took the guy in. Bought him a turkey dinner, and got him to a shelter. Sadly, I am no philanthropist. Being a starving college student, I barely get by with my own self to deal with. I didn't have much to offer, beyond a couple of cans that might go toward a fast food hamburger, or maybe a soda. Or maybe cigarettes, although I hope not. I'd be content if he spent it on weed, though. Weed makes any situation tolerable.
    The only thing I could do was to pick up the bag for him, and hold it while he took it from me. No longer needing to feel self-conscious about his task, the guy started to prop himself up on the side of the bin in order to get a better look. I turned away, started up my car, and left. I did not wittiness  him jump into the bin, but I'm sure he did if he had to.
    If I was homeless, would somebody write about me? Would somebody care? WOuld somebody take notice to my suffering? I'm certainly no Ghandi. I'm selfish, just like everyone else. But maybe it's the least I can do to at least TRY and bring awareness to the dire straights people currently find themselves in. Leaving bags of cans lying around just doesn't seem like it's enough...
Uploaded 05/17/2012
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