Everyone’s been haggled by some haggard homeless hobo and we all know the sight of the destitute old man who smells like shit, sitting among his trash bags of belongings and begging everyone who walks by for change. I’ve been around the homeless before, I used to volunteer in Newark, NJ at a soup kitchen, but I stopped going when the director was hit in the head with a hammer giving a bum a hotdog. And in Morgantown when I attended West Virginia University there was always a fleet of meth-addled grubbers every night asking the thousands of comparatively wealthy college kids for a dollar. (Does anybody remember Homeless Homer? I saw him in Miami last year and he did have a Maserati.)
The homeless in Columbus are an infestation. Ask anyone. Half of the bums aren’t even homeless. Just dead-beats piggy-backing on whatever they con people into giving.
I opened my door this morning and the first thing I see is a black guy standing in the sidewalk with a white guy. The guy turns around, sees me, and before I’m even out of my apartment this guy go ‘Yooo! My brother, what’s going on?’ as if he knows me and I as if I wouldn’t facilitate his capitulation if given lawful means. He walks up my stoop to my door as I’m locking up (I made sure the deadbolt was secure) and he starts talking to me like he’s my best friend, coming up with his hand out for a handshake. I stiffed him. He got defensive as if I didn’t have that right. ‘Woah, woah! Don’t be like that, man. I’m just a guy.’ I ask him three times what he wants and finally he says, ‘Me and my bro here are from Mississippi we was wonderin’ if you could help us out, help us get on the bus.’ I quickly tell him no. I despise this man. I feel every inch of my flesh just curdle from intense, not even pity, because you can’t feel pity for a despicable rodent, but curdle with disgustful loathing. As if I myself am rotting away just from being in contact with this, perversion of humanity. I quickly tell him no, he gets defensive again, I start walking away and he asks, ‘Well, can I get a cigarette?’ It sickens me how ‘people’ exist in a mind-frame where they think people will just give them things. I had the moral integrity and impetus to improve the city of Columbus this morning, to make its streets seem a bit more, human; unfortunately I lacked the legal standing.
I was standing in front of Travonna’s Coffee House one evening, smoking a cigarette. A man walked up to me and asked if he could have my lighter. I told him he could borrow it real quick to light a cigarette, but that I certainly was not going to let him ‘have’ my lighter. ‘Aw why not, man? Why can’t you just help me out?’ It wasn’t a cigarette he needed to light, he wanted to have my lighter so he could light a joint he had. Why don’t you just buy a lighter? ‘I can’t, man.’ Go across the street and get a pack of matches then. ‘They won’t give me matches no more, man.’ What I failed to understand here, and I think this is a point he entirely missed, was how did come across this joint, how did he get the pot, and not be able to afford 99 cents for a book a matches?
There is one homeless guy I’ve given money to on a few occasions. It’s this older white man and for whatever reason my empathy towards this man was something I rarely find towards the homeless. He came across as compassionate, upstanding, morally sound. His eyes were wilted and he seemed broken to be having to ask; he didn’t come across, nor could I find a way to compare this man, to those other worthless pieces of shit that plague humanity. This man was not one of those predatory creatures that only try to take and take and take whatever they can get through coercing and intimidating a seemingly small and naive white kid as he leaves his apartment in the morning. I was asked by a ‘homeless’ pathetic creature for money one afternoon as I left a small eatery. He came up and asked for money and instantly I knew this man had no regard for anyone but himself, that had no concern for society and just wanted whatever people would give him, what he felt he deserved. I told him no and he says ‘But I just saw you eating in there!’ I really hoped he was hungry as shit. Then I saw the older white man with the puppy-dog face, the eyebrows turned up in the middle, his face creased but still soft walking along the sidewalk. He asked me if I could spare some change with such hopeless pity in his voice that I emptied my pockets. I stared straight at the pathetic creature as I gave this man a handful of crumpled singles and a bunch of change.
What I’m trying to work out here is why some people deserve my help and others don’t. I can put it as such: those who need will be given, those who only want I will gladly watch rot. There are people in this city (trust me, I’ve spent nights in seedy places) who don’t give a shit to do anything with their lives. These people are completely content just hanging out all day, doing as they please, contributing nothing to anybody but only to their own pleasures, getting by on whatever they get weasle out of people. And again, trust me, a lot of these pathetic worms intentionally target the small, the nervous, those who seem easily scared, students coming back from class, because these ignoramuses feel they can intimidate us. But this one, older white man did none of this, does none of this. He got a voice full of sorrow and a friendly face nonetheless.
All in all, to tie this up, being in Columbus has festered just this gross contempt of the homeless, especially the arrogant ignoramuses like the stoop-rhesus that accosted me on my way out this morning.
Tip: this was given to me by a colleague — when a bum approaches you quickly ask them for a dollar before they get the chance.