Last week, I went into a convenient store at a gas station. As I entered, I overheard a gentle voice behind me asking, “Can you please buy me a juice? Can you please buy me a juice? Can you please buy me a juice?”

Wondering why the person was repeatedly asking, I turned around to look. It was a homeless man standing at the entrance asking persons who entered to buy him a juice. Everyone was ignoring him so he kept asking hoping someone will care enough to help. It was an extremely hot day, a juice cost almost nothing and it was a modest request; yet no one budged or even looked his way. I was appalled at everyone’s response, or lack of response for that matter.

These little things that we ignore is life’s way of testing us. With all that’s been taking place in the world lately—catastrophic natural disasters, strategic bombings, falling nations, economic downfalls and job cuts—the possibility of any one of us ending up homeless is very high. We might think we have it all and it could never happen to us, but life has a funny way of teaching us lessons. Karma is real. The tables can turn any day and we too can end up asking for help—perhaps also getting ignored.

So let’s not get too caught up in our busy lives, believing we’ve reached our destination. Having success and wealth is not what life is about, in fact, it does not make us any more of a person than someone without. If we don’t practice compassion, life will eventually find a way to make us learn how; and I assure you, life is not a lenient teacher.

What would you have done if you overheard the homeless man? Comment below and share you thoughts. 

 

 


Smile! Life is better when you’re laughing!

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36 Replies to “The Ignored Homeless Man”

  1. If it were me, I’d buy him a juice and a meal as well. Because I understand what you pointed out in this awesome post… that the tables might turn someday… that if it were me or some relative, we wouldn’t appreciate being ignored. so i’d rather sow good seeds of kindness to be able to reap good if the need arises.

    1. I’m not surprised that you would. I think that’s the whole point, as you said, to sow good seeds. You never know when we can be the ones in need. Thanks for reading and sharing that Jainey 🙂

  2. I know your heart is in the right place, but I think your thinking doesn’t help these people and only enables them. I recently returned from Peru, a much more financially poorer country than the USA. Most of our poor live better than their middle class. And yet traveling throughout the country, I encountered not a single person begging. They sell things and if you want to help them you buy something from them. They have pride. There are so many people in this country that could use some help having their yards mowed, walks shoveled any number of things and they are willing to pay for this help. However, it isn’t easy to find someone to help, even for money. We could learn a lot from our South American neighbors.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Allen. That is a very admirable trait of the Peruvian people. However, as much as we would like it to be so, not everyone is cultured the same, and I don’t think people should be scrutinised for the way in which they were cultured.

      I agree that the poor in some first world countries live better than middle classes in some third world countries. My story is based in a third world country, and while there are those who seek help by selling things and providing services, there are the few who simply don’t. I agree that in some cases, giving freely (in terms of cash) might be enabling them, but to me, getting someone (homeless or not) a drink on a hot day, who is helpless and parched is in no way enabling. I think it’s the humane thing to do.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and valuable insight on Peru 🙂

  3. Without hesitation, I would have gotten him his juice. The stigma around the homeless is heartbreaking. This country, and all others, need to seriously address this!!

    1. It is heartbreaking. People don’t choose to be homeless, they’re homeless because of some unfortunate life circumstance— a mental, emotional or financial issue. It’s sad that instead of understanding what might have caused them to end up homeless, some choose to judge.
      Thanks for sharing Dorinda.

  4. When my husband left, I suddenly became a single mom, I saw how easily life can change over night. We want to tell ourselves that homelss people did this to themselves, instead of thinking how we might help. Your giving a person sustenance can be a matter of life or death. I found that out one year, when working at a store in North Carolina and one of the homeless that wandered the alleys at night was found dead after being in our store begging food. It has haunted me for over two decades. I would have let him have his pick of juice (the biggest one in the flavor) and a meal as well. It is still more blessed to give.

    1. Oh my. Life can indeed change over night.
      Your story with the homeless man touched me. Had I been in your shoes, it would’ve definitely haunted me as well. That is such an eye-opener. Thank you for sharing that Juli 🙂

  5. Here’s something I and a few people I know, do. I usually have a few packets of cookies/biscuits in my car, (sometimes even chocolates with it for homeless children). I give it to the homeless I come across. That way, I can hand it out to them immediately, it’s easy to store and easier to hand over in places where you can’t find a place to buy a meal.

    Talking of perspectives about the homeless, in a populated country like mine, you just can’t differentiate between the genuinely homeless and the ones that are forced into the business by the beggar mafia (You should google this, you’ll be shocked at how it works). The money you give to the latter kind only ends up going to criminals. Then there are the ones that are just lazy but I think who are we to judge them anyway? Are we doing the best of all the opportunities we have? It’s a no mostly, then how do we judge someone else for not working or doing their best. However, despite what kind of homeless you come across – genuine, hired or lazy – there is never harm in sharing food. We’re all humans and it’s the most basic thing we all deserve.

    You don’t have to do big things to make a change in the world, little thoughtful things will suffice.

    1. I’m currently in the Philippines and the situation is similar. Some are genuinely homeless, while some are part of a syndicate, or faking it. As a foreigner here its obvious, as they never approach the Filipino’s for money, only me.

      Sometimes I do give, especially to the ones that I know. But sometimes I don’t as I don’t believe them.

      I have also been conned before too which has affected my mentality.

      I agree on distributing food though. Locals here advise me to do that instead of giving money.

    2. There’s a beggar mafia? Oh my goodness! I have never heard of that or even thought something like it existed. That’s just dreadful. That’ll definitely make it harder to identify the needy. I love your idea of keeping goodies handy. It is so thoughtful. I’ll do the same as well.

      “Then there are the ones that are just lazy but I think who are we to judge them anyway? Are we doing the best of all the opportunities we have?” — This is so well said. I’m sure we can all find ways to justify that we are doing our best in our current situations, while someone else might look at us and think we are not. We wouldn’t like to be judged so why judge them? As the sign says in the image above, never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up.

      Thank you for sharing this Jiji.

  6. He wasn’t speaking to everyone, he was speaking to you and you heard him. The voice of the universe comes through and inspires us in many ways. This was one.
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. This reminded me of a post you wrote a long time ago about offering to buy someone bread at a bakery. You never know what someone’s intentions are when they ask for something. I tend to assume the best from people unless they give me a reason not to. To me, asking for money and asking for food/juice/water are very different things. When someone is asking for money, you have no way of knowing what they might use that money for. Once again, I would hope they would use it for something they really need, but I think we all know that’s not always the case.

    In the situation you were in, I wouldn’t even hesitate to buy this person a juice. Back when I used to travel all the time, I remember stopping at a McDonald’s for lunch one day. There was a homeless man outside of the restaurant asking people for money for food. I went into the restaurant and ate my lunch, then looked outside to see if the man was still out there. He was, so I bought some food and a drink for him. Since he was asking for money for food, I figured I would just buy the food for him. When I got back into the vehicle, I watched him for a minute to see how he reacted to receiving the food. He cried as he began eating. I was glad that he appreciated the food, and felt good knowing that I helped someone in need. I would have been upset if he had thrown the food away.

    Fantastic post, as always, Candace!! You are absolutely right, any one of us could find ourselves in this person’s situation suddenly. We need to remember that when we see someone in need. Always treat others the way you would want to be treated. 🙂

    1. “He cried as he began eating” This is so moving Danny. Not just the instance, but the emotions he must have gone through before the moment, or the ones that go through such emotions everyday. This will stay with me for a while, and I’ll keep this in mind every time I see a homeless person.

    2. Thank you.

      Oh my, as I was reading through your story, I thought you were going to say that he tossed it aside; but he cried–that is so touching. Sometimes you have no idea how a small kind gesture can completely touch someone’s life. This is a classic example.

      When some people hear a homeless person asking for food, they have the mentality that “someone else will do it for them” and keep going on their way. It takes a certain character to stop and be that person. What you did was so kind Danny. Thank you for sharing that story 🙂

  8. Very true. We could end up like this, who knows!

    I’ll be honest sometimes I don’t give and sometimes I do. Those decisions are made in a split second through experience. I don’t stop and think sometimes. I have given before and all the person did was gloat to their friends and i’ve also been tricked into giving a substantial amount here.

    Those people maybe walking by because they have somehow been affected themselves in the past. Speaking from experience, there is nothing worse than being fleeced, but in this case it wouldn’t cost much at all.

    I wish I could give a straight answer but the truth is, it varies.

    In the UK we have homeless people too and in those cases, i’ll give them food but if people are already giving them something then I’m happy for the guy/girl.

    1. I agree with you. I honestly give without hesitation when it comes to food or basic necessities, however, I am more sceptical when it comes to giving cash. I am wary of scammers and enabling an addiction. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts 🙂

  9. Wow. I could not have walked by such a simple request. Yes, I would have bought him juice and perhaps more. A few years ago after a nasty divorce, I was at the point of nearly losing the home for me and my children. It was scary and I know how difficult it was.

    Does anyone CHOOSE that way of life? Heck no! He wasn’t asking for money, a simple drink which people take for granted that they can get whenever they choose.

    Such a sad state that he had such a small voice. He obviously knew people would walk by.

    I don’t understand unempathetic people I have given my lunch to a hungry child and my last bit of change to an old lady that wanted beans. This was through my work and something we were not supposed to get involved in due to it sometimes backfiring… I always did it when I had opportunity and I saw the desperation in that person.

    Well done you for giving him what you could and not being the faceless masses… Or as I call them, lemmings. Going about it hear own world unable to see the heartache because it isn’t happening to them.

    It takes a kind heart to see suffering and DO something, no matter how small.

    I remember an old lady with severe dementia being reported as causing a nuisance to shoppers. I took her back to my office and saw she had not washed in so long her clothes were sticking to her. I helped her to the toilet and rinsed her clothes as best I could. I was ashamed to say, colleagues were trying to get rid of her as the smell was off-putting.
    I spent 7 hours with her. She didn’t remember where she lived so I found out. Her fridge and cupboards were empty so I filled them. Her son and his loving wife were called and they complained as she was annoying them. Needless to say, they got a stern voice of my opinion of who was the nuisance.

    Heartless people are the reason this world is going so wrong.

    Keep doing as you are x

    1. Wow, that’s some story Sarah, thanks so much for sharing.
      It is very selfless of you to give your meal and last bit of change to help people in need.
      And beyond kind of you to treat that woman the way you did.

      I always say, no good deed ever goes unnoticed and I believe when we give with a pure heart we receive ten-fold. Although most times, the type of people who are giving aren’t giving to get anything in return.

      There are a lot of good people in the world, but they tend to get overshadowed by the massive amount of not so good ones.

  10. We must practise compassion against those who ignored him as we don’t have enough information as to why they couldn’t give money. Perhaps they themselves had just about enough money to buy the things on the grocery list that they really need or they simply are poor themselves. Yes, they may not be homeless but perhaps they’re avoiding the brink of poverty themselves. I’m not saying they were all poor but with insufficient information, they might have been.

  11. Honestly I may have passed him straight, however since reading this post, I will be more aware of these situations. Thanks for sharing babe, lovely post!

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