From the Editor’s Perch…

Walking the Streets

I complained to a friend of mine, about a brief encounter with a vagrant on a downtown street, who had pestered me into conversation: “It’s so corrosive to the social fabric, so deleterious to the social compact people need to form in order to care for one another,” I complained.  “Here this guy is; he comes up to me and starts a friendly conversation.  He asks me questions, and draws parallels between us, like he wants to know me.  And as soon as he figures I’m not giving him any money, he leaves.  Or if I do give him money, he only chats further as long as he figures he might get more, and then he leaves.  He doesn’t care a fig about me or want to know me at all!”

My friend cast me a laughing smile, as if I were the world’s most pampered whiner.  “Of course he wants your money.  What do you expect?  He’s living on the street.  You have the money, and they don’t.”  He spoke with the assurance of a professional social worker.  “How do you think they’re going to act,” he looked at me as if to wonder if I were emotionally blunted, or had suffered a complete failure of imagination.

Well, nevertheless, I think it makes a great deal of difference how people  do act.  If I were to tell my friend that in my experience, the real reason people end up on the street is not because they run out of money, but because they  run out of friends – he would no doubt laugh at my idiocy and say, ‘The real reason they are out on the street is because they are flat broke!’

My friend believes what is needed is a total economic transformation of our current system and much more government involvement.  And this will come with more education.

Not that my friend is going to help them either.  In fact, he just shakes his head when I give one of these scam artists money!  But some of these street fellows: they show a bit of sales skills; we have a little fun parrying, they’re good story tellers or actors; maybe they are just shy or I admire their stoicism; or they are just pathetically so over the top!  As an aspiring theater person, I just feel I just have to toss some money in the hat.  I’m not supporting a drunk; I’m supporting the Arts.

 Photos by Carl Nelson

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