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bus riders, the homeless, and my sister's Taiwanese Street Dog

  1. der·e·lict
    1. 1.
      in a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect.

      "the cities were derelict and dying"

      synonyms:damneddoomedlost, condemned to hell;

    1. 1.
      a person without a home, job, or property.

      "derelicts who could fit all their possessions in a paper bag"

      synonyms:trampvagrantvagabond, down and out, homeless person, drifter

  2. The other day when I was waiting in line at the MacDonald's drive through (I know, I know, don't judge) I had an opportunity to watch the people at the bus stop.  They all suddenly seemed so real to me.

  3. Getting off the bus was a young man in his early twenties, with medium dark skin and shiny black hair worn in short curls.  He had on an indigo blue button-down shirt and black jeans with a folded up resume sticking out of the front pocket.  It was so sweet!  He was probably going for a job interview at the Safeway there and he looked, if not confident, then at least hopeful. I had to stifle the urge to tell him to straighten out his resume.

Trying to get on the bus was a super tan woman with obviously-dyed dark brown hair and maroon lipstick sucking madly on a cigarette.  She was pushing - not pulling - a carry-on wheelie suitcase and every time she inhaled the cigarette her cheeks sunk way in and her skin pulled taut over her skull.  She looked very determined.  To tackle the day?  Get to where she was going?  Or just finish off as much of her cigarette as she could before boarding the bus?

Walking by these people was a blond, slightly balding man that looked like a wrestling coach or ex-wrestler.  He was bundled up in a cheap, synthetic knit, red and gold scarf, and grumbling either to himself or the people waiting to get on the bus.  His eyes bulged with some expressed emotion, possibly anger.  I fear angry people so at that point I looked away.

I hope I am considered a tolerant, open-minded person not snobby or racist in any way, but certain things trigger the fear response in me, whether the threat is real or not.  This can happen fairly easily especially when I am in a busy city.  Worse case scenario I fear getting attacked.  But I am also afraid of getting yelled at or made fun of or just rejected in general (that's my social anxiety).  I also fear that someone might suck my energy away leaving me exhausted and drained.  Or they might make me cry because they themselves seem so vulnerable (the abandoned veterans particularly break my heart).  It's a minefield out there I tell you.  But at least my fear has not turned to hate as it can so easily do.  I'm sure you all are aware of how much hate there is in this world and how it arises because we fear what is different from us.  We fear who and what we do not know or understand, and it sucks.  Big time.

So yeah, my city is crowded with people that my grandmother would have called derelicts (I'm not necessarily referring to those bus-riders here.  They were just unfortunate people who didn't have a car).   And I don't think many people even have much of a choice.  Life can beat us down so easily and our society has no proper safety net for all the people that fall.

The Walgreens drug store, in particular, is a hotbed of derelict activity so when I go there I like to have spare change or dollars bills to hand out.  My limbic brain, my fearful self, can get anxious going there but also I am grateful because it is a reminder that with a few more wrong turns in life, it could easily be me.  I've got mental health issues, they've got mental health know how it is.  And sure they may be using my spare change to buy drugs or alcohol but I'm not there to reform them.  If I was homeless or crazy I would want to be high as much of the time as possible.  Call me an enabler but if I want to get someone sober I'll attend one of my AA meetings.  Anyway, sometimes I buy them food or cigarettes instead.  I am far from rich but I'm WAY better off than they are and they make me grateful for, and aware of, my comforts and privileges.

If I were to continue on at this point my post would get political, which I don't want.  I want this post to be about humanity.  It's so easy to condemn a certain group of people, like the drug addicts, homeless, or even the poor.  But if you were to sit still and watch them do something as simple as ride the bus, you could see their real lives, their human-beingness.  Yet my love of people and my fear of people can be hard to reconcile.  I totally relate to my sister's Taiwanese Street Dog that she rescued.  That doggie likes to come up to visitors and greet them but then if they try to pat her she growls or shies away. "Love me, love me, love me - go away!"  That's my humanity.  I am no Mother Theresa that's for sure.  I'm just a person who had a moment waiting in line for an Egg McMuffin and Diet Coke.


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