Reggie. That's my guy. For a long while and for whatever reason, I've always had a special place in my heart for homeless people. Oh sure, some of them are assholes, just as in the day-to-day you encounter home people that are assholes. Those damn homeowners. If anything the percentage might be lower among homeless people.
Many people seem to have an aversion to the homeless, and this can be for any number of reasons. I won't speculate on them all, but I'll entertain one quick extrapolation of the feeling I sometimes have. It starts that homelessness is a clear problem, and often people don't like to deal with problems. Couple that with it being a problem that doesn't have an easy solution, and therein lies a heightening of the problem. Why do I want to be considering a problem I can't really hope to solve? This is that dangerous line of thinking that brings one toward apathy. So instead, how about incremental steps?
For me this is treating homeless people as human beings, because they are human beings. Just as I can't know all of the reasons people dislike the homeless, I can't know all of the reasons people have become homeless. With the exception of a group of traveling dickweeds sometimes referred to as "crusties," most folks don't want to be homeless. Especially in Chicago. Especially in winter.
So when I can't offer leftover food or money—somehow homeless people aren't supposed to use your money to buy booze, even though that is what plenty of homeowners spend it on to "drown their sorrows," as if those sorrows are somehow more relevant—I offer my ear.
This was my experience with Reggie the other day. He asked for a little help and I had none I could offer—no cash, no food. But we did chat, and we even got onto the topic of the plight of homeless shelters where, even if there are beds to be had, those beds can include bedbugs. And if regular people don't want bedbugs, why should homeless people? Because remember, they're actually regular people too. So while onlookers looked at me as if I was crazy, Reggie told me, "You know what man, you made my day." It made me wish I had the boldness to offer him a place under my roof for the night. I didn't, and I don't. But you know, Reggie made my day too.