An Inspiring Homeless Encounterby Taran Moriates on Feb, 21 2013
The ethereal chorus of Radiohead’s “House Of Cards” floated through my headphones and whistled in and out of the store fronts and traffic of Bancroft Avenue. It was a Wednesday, shown by the tired yet hopeful visages bobbing through my periphery. Teriyaki chicken rice bowl was in one hand, fork in the other. I was on my way to philosophy. Unfortunately, I left my toga and quill in my dorm room.
I glanced down to the pattering of my Vans, exhaling deeply, allowing my mind to idly seep into the ever-so-tempting, yet dreadfully foreboding contemplations of future careers and life—warming up for the philosophical tundra I was about to be dropped off and stranded in. For some reason, these thoughts seemed abundantly intimidating and discouraging at that moment—an uncertainty that wades against ambition.
A sudden gust of wind caused me to turn my head to the side in order to shield my dried out eyes. Just at that moment, as I squinted towards the grassy hill on my right, a homeless man leaning against a mangled cart filled with blankets and water bottles made eye contact with me and carelessly beckoned me over to him with his hand. I pretended like I didn’t see him and kept walking, not thinking much of it. The man hastily jumped up from the grass and started staggering towards me at a shockingly fast pace until his broken and decayed teeth were right at my shoulder.
“Son, I must talk to you,” came a gruff voice through a straggly beard. There was a sense of sincerity in his simple sentence that intrigued me enough to peer next to me at this man—sunken eyes, weathered complexion, aged hair, torn military-style jacket. I stopped and prepared to listen, half expecting the experienced nonsensical jabber of such folk, yet half hoping for something unique as well.
He lifted his forefinger to occupy the space between us and pointed it towards my chest and began talking most peculiarly given the circumstances.
“I’m sorry, I just couldn’t idly sit by with my mouth closed and be abandoned in the confines of my own mind for any longer. I had to tell someone, and you happened to be right in front of me when this resistance broke through.” He swiftly pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a puff to the side. I checked my watch.
“You know, I sit over there on that patch of grass every day, and day after day I see hundreds of you young kids walk by me looking like you’re all about to go into war or someone died or like you have a million burdens and worries chained to your back. Look at me, man,” he scoffed while gesturing back towards his cart—his life, “I don’t have anything but that right there. What’s so wrong with all of your lives that makes you more miserable than a man that has to sleep on the sidewalks, hasn’t talked to his mom in fifteen years, and is both physically and mentally decapitated?”
“Look around at the trees, the birds, the wind, the Golden Gate Bridge just over that hill. Now, are you telling me that you making your way to a class at a world renowned university with talents, ambitions, opportunities, success, love, and happiness at your fingertips is so tragic that it clouds the beauty around you, spoiling the only day that you have guaranteed? I don’t know, man, I don’t get it. You all are lucky.”
Shaking his head, he turned his back and wobbled back towards his original spot with his cigarette loosely hanging by his side.