Even during the ramping up of the holiday season I enjoy walking along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Michigan Ave is a hotspot for tourists looking for a midwest “Fifth Avenue” experience and the Mag Mile fills this need well. As I make my way through the crowded sidewalks I’m always interested to hear the various accents and non-English languages being spoken. I love living in a prominent destination for people across the world.
A part of me has a hard time walking along the Mag Mile as there too many homeless people taking shelter and (usually) quietly asking for money. A veteran by the name of Cliff was bundled up with only one hand holding a McDonalds cup exposed to the outside world. The tattered sign contained the aforementioned details and indicated he was homeless and looking for bus money to get to a shelter. I had no reason to doubt the authenticity of his sign so I stopped and put some money in his cup. The bills made no noise against the plastic of the cup so I decided to speak.
“Thank you for your service, Cliff. This will help you can get to a warm place this evening.”
A surprisingly young looking man came out from under the blankets and looked in the cup. His looked up and his eyes said thank you as he removed the money I had placed there. My eyes teared up as I walked away and resumed my way to catch the Brown Line to my warm place for the evening. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that we send our citizens off to war or other military activity, they do their part, they keep up their end of the bargain, and then we fail at supporting them when they come back home.
Our country is better than this. We as a society need to fix the homeless epidemic.
I hope Cliff is warm tonight.