Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Homeless man conundrum

This morning the homeless man who stands on the corner of Bleecker and Broadway asked me for some money. As I was getting coffee in Han’s deli I started to think about this homeless guy. For one, he is super tall, strong looking, and on the younger side. He looks like a bum, but mostly in the way that a guy traveling with no home would look like a bum. He has what seems to be a warm jacket on. Sure, he’s insane. I once saw him chasing a pigeon with ravenous eyes. But still, the question hit me, why is this guy asking me for money?
I don’t mean it in the way of - why is this guy asking me for money because he clearly doesn’t need any, like the guy who stands outside of Grand Central smoking cigs and wearing Nike Shocks. Or in the way Tim says “why is this guy asking me for money I don’t have any and he may be dressed better than I am.”

No, I mean it more in the way of, in real life, statistically speaking, this guy is more able to get a job and make more money than I am. I am a little girl; this man could save my life from a falling piece of wood. He could do manual labor that I couldn’t. He could probably run faster and jump further. In real life, if this guy wasn’t a bum, he would pull out my chair for me in a restaurant, open the door for me at work, buy me drinks at a bar, and reach to get something for me on the top shelf of Associated Supermarket. If this guy had some money, or even just a little leverage, he could get his degree, he would probably go further than me in the business world as a white male. He wouldn’t be hitting a glass ceiling or called ‘baby’ by random strangers. If we ever went on a date, he would insist on paying and treat me like a helpless chick when it came down to picking the wine or getting the coats. In fact, if it was cold he would give me his coat.

So okay, this isn’t the case. Instead of being a strapping man he is a bird eater. But it just makes me wonder what level you have to reach mentally in order for those barriers to be so broken down. To beg for a dollar from a 23 year old girl, something none of the men in my life would ever even consider doing. In our society it is the man who is expected to take care of things, protect his girlfriend/wife/daughter. Even independent women and dependant men still uphold some of these ideals; when a guy lets the door slam in my face, it is a shock. When you see a girl carrying something heavy and a man offers to help, it is expected and welcomed. I am not advocating a woman's rights thing or anything, I am just generally wondering when these respects are just gone for you.

What point do you have to reach where all these ideals and respects and so on are just completely gone to you? After asking me for a dollar he asked the tiny old smoker lady that lives next to me. I mean really? Her? She is old and tiny and a lady.

I guess once you have the desire to roast a pigeon and eat its sweet meat all other regular societal norms are sort of lost on you.

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