Homeless, Keyless, Wednesday

Today was strange…

I am homeless

Image courtesy of Malingering on Flickr – it is not of either of the homeless men I met today.


I started off the day by going for a great morning run. On my way home I realized my house key fell out of my shorts pocket, so I was looking around on the ground for it.

A homeless man asked if I lost something, and immediately followed up asking if it was a water bottle before I could respond. After telling him it was a key he informed me the water bottle he saw earlier was very nice.

I walked away cursing the fact I would have to break in to my house, but also thinking about a man with concern over my loss who didn’t have keys of his own to lose.

Breaking in requires scaling a tall wall, jumping through a window a-la Trinity escaping in The Matrix, and finally possessing the key to our inside apartment (which I still had).

At the end of the day I hit the bank for a friend and locked my keys in the car in the process… Two key losses in a single day. It would have been my first key loss in years if it were only once.

As I waited for my wife, bringing the spare key, a homeless man with a harshly weathered and flushed face approached. The conversation went like this:

  • Homeless man: Hello, sir?
  • I kept silent, posting to del.icio.us.
  • Man: Sir, is that your car?
  • Me: Yep?
  • Man: <upbeat> Where are you from?
  • Me: Here, Philadelphia…
  • Man: Sir, I could use a cup ‘a coffee, could ya spare some change?
  • Me: …
  • Man: <poorly rehearsed> Sir, I’m homeless, hungry, scared, and need something to eat. Anything you can offer will help.
  • Me: I’m sorry, but I won’t give cash, but I’ll get us cups of coffee.
  • Man: <confused, back pedaling> But I’m hungry. I have 55-cents <jingles pockets> and only need a little more for coffee.
  • I twittered
  • Man: Sir, pay attention to me. I need some help.
  • Me: I’ll buy us cups of coffee and a snack then.
  • Man: <pausing again> But… I’m hungry.
  • Me: <Genuine smile> Let’s go get a cup of coffee, Starbucks is two doors down.

He turned his back to me and walked off without another word. His “hello, sir?” introduction was repeated to each passerby.