When Earl and I first moved into the neighborhood, we were walking home from dinner and noticed a man sleeping under a well-lit railroad bridge. He had a sleeping mat and blankets and all of his belongings arranged a certain way. This was the first time I noticed a person sleeping outside in our neighborhood. He’s the only one I’ve seen thus far. I was concerned for his well-being.
My daily morning walks take me under that bridge and there’s never a trace of the man sleeping under the mattress. If we walk by after dark, he’s there. People walking by maintain a distance. I’ve never seen him harassed. He looks well-fed and relatively groomed/cleaned. Earl and I, like the other passerbys at night, don’t disturb him. But I remain concerned for him.
Last night it was very warm and he was sleeping on top of his comforter arrangement. I’ve seen him out there in 40ºF weather and I’ve now seen him in 85ºF weather. I’m concerned that he’ll still be there trying to sleep at night under the bridge during the cold weather. Being new to the neighborhood, I don’t know what he does during the winter. One night I we were walking by on the opposite side of the street and he was sitting up, arranging his blankets to get comfortable. That’s when I could tell that he seemed to be in fairly good health and had a chance to clean up somewhere.
I know that there are some in our society that simply choose to be homeless. I’ve never seen him on the street during daylight hours. A part of me wants to leave something for him, like a sandwich or bottle of water or something, but I’m hesitant because I don’t want to infringe on his space. That seems to be his territory during the non-daylight hours and he’s obviously sleeping under the light for safety’s sake. Some people have their own deal and just want to be left alone. I certainly don’t want to chase him out of there without another place for him to go. At least the bridge is wide enough that he’s seemingly protected from the elements.
My concern remains. I don’t like seeing folks in our society without the necessities. We should be beyond this by now.
*I was originally going to include a photo taken from halfway up the block last night in this blog entry but decided against it. It seemed to violate the man’s privacy, even though there were no discernible features in the photo, and I want to remain respectful of his space.