Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday Errands and Lessons in Society's Ills

We are driving to the recycling center toward the edge of town. All of our hard work drinking will pay off when we cash in the bottles. Youngest notices two men sitting on a curb.

"Are they homeless?" he asks.

"No, they're workers. They're called 'day laborers.' People hire them to do work, like on their yards. Jim [our neighbor] does it."

"Jim is a day laborer?" he wonders, awestruck.

It is worth a chuckle.

At the recycling center, a man with a shopping cart is emptying out cardboard and bottles. Curiously, he is not waiting in line to get the redemption money. More curiously, he is barefoot, clad only in a T-shirt and a pair of semi-white boxers.

Youngest stares at the man. I tell him not to stare, to just let him be. While we are in line, the man walks back over to his cart where a pair of jeans, socks and shoes sit, folded neatly on the ground. We try not to watch as he dresses and goes on his way.

In another part of town, near the Target, Youngest says he saw a tent pitched near the adjacent railroad tracks and that he was sure he'd seen a person in it. I explain that they are likely homeless or wanderers. As we drive past, I point out one man with a small rat dog on the grass and another man with a sign on the median. Perhaps one of them was in the tent?

"I don't think homeless people should be allowed to have dogs," Youngest proclaims. "They can't take care of them."

I tell him that some people do believe that; however, I'm not one of those people. I tell him how lonely it must be for that man, maybe he is mentally ill, maybe he is addicted to drugs or alcohol, maybe he was beaten when he was little. Probably, I tell him, that man looks after that dog extremely well and the dog is likely grateful to always be with his owner. Maybe, I tell him, they make each other less lonely.

"You're right," he says. "He should have a dog. Everyone should have a dog. Maybe he is homeless because he only has money to feed his dog, not pay for an apartment."

And so goes another Saturday morning of errand running with my errand buddy.


Jocelyn said...

And then Youngest grows up to become an advocate for the homeless and helps to change things, one person (and dog) at a time.

You are awesome.

Tara R. said...

Sometimes errands provide the best 'teachable moments.'

6512 and growing said...

Ohmygoodness. My kids are so insanely sheltered. Yours are getting a true life education.


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