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Will work for food

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 Homeless. Lost hungry and suffering. Maybe addicted to alcohol drugs abuse or neglect. So it is for these people that grace the streets with their cardboard signs. “Anything Helps!” seems to be a favorite slogan here in Denver. Sometimes it’s followed with a personal touch like “Not my Choice! Stranded in Denver”

- the sign of a lady who seems like she could be one of my girlfriends. This population of homeless has swelled to include men that resemble my father. Too proud to stand on the corner looking dirty or lame, I see them dressed for their 9 to 5, whatever that might be. Hair combed back, with painter pants or slacks on, ready to do a job that won’t be asked of them. Eyes that thought they would never see this day, trying to hide behind their cardboard visor.  It has dawned on some in this roofless situation though, to be clever and consistent. There are fixtures in my city now that are as notable as the street signs. The crazy lady with yellow rubber gloves; her sign usually reads “Dreaming of Chicken” but has recently been updated to “Happy Spring”. Or the guy who stands on the corner, right next to my apartment building, claiming that he’s a vet. (And yes... you can be a vet and never see combat). His schedule is precise though, he’s there every day. Monday through Friday that is. I wonder where he goes on the weekend. He always gives me the evil eye, and I’m pretty sure he’s up to no good. The other day there was a guy who had a T-shirt on that said “I DON’T BITE I’M JUST HUNGRY” if I would’ve had a dollar, I’d have given it to him. He made me laugh. My daughter herself became fond of a man with a puppy, he had crutches and a bed roll, his puppy was too cute however, and we never did read his sign. More and more couples are working the highways off ramps. Two people trying to stay together, maybe for some sense of safety, maybe out of convenience, maybe it’s true love. Living in the streets can be terrifying at times. Even for love. It’s been known to lead down paths of destruction. It makes me wonder what to make of the whole families I've seen. There was a guy with a sign saying “Not even gonna lie, I need beer money!" He disappeared a while ago. Then there was my friend’s homeless, alcoholic, ex-husband,who was beat to death in an alley. They haven’t found the killer or killers, but they are thought to be transient too. One creepy homeless guy started calling her phone, but the question of where to look for him still goes unanswered. My very own cousin has been homeless for years, choosing drugs over everything else. I’m not sure if he has honestly tried to get sober, or if he’s happy wasting away under bridges. I saw him recently a few times, and the first time was kinda scary. I could tell he was high, with his eyes black and foggy. That and he was dirty, really dirty, like he had shit his pants dirty. And I didn’t know what to do. I yelled his name and the blank look that crossed his face made me squeamish inside. I drove off. I’ve seen him twice since then. His sign catching my eye. It said “Everything Helps” instead of just the average “anything” and I thought that that was clever. Both times that I saw him, I stopped to say hi but was committedly en route to wherever. He looked pissed and guilty all at the same time and I just wanted to tell him “I love you. “  I plan to find him again soon, I told him I’d be back. And then of course I also wonder about all the “God Bless You’s” that I see written. Are they an advanced thank-you? Or maybe just a mere afterthought. Is it a message of “HA HA! I hope that bastard blesses you as much as he’s blessed me!"? You would almost think that it would have to be. But there is a story behind every face, behind every cardboard sign. I saw a man who's sign read “Will kidnap mother in-law for beer money!” Someone must’ve taken him up on it, because he was so wasted I was afraid he was going to fall in the street. I bet he has quite a story! Whatever the reason, drugs, alcohol, bad luck, domestic violence, poverty, laziness, mental illness, hustling, or just plain choice… whatever the reason, that these people are homeless, lost, hungry, suffering... or not... they are laying themselves out there for the rest of us - To judge. - To help. - To not forget! - Don’t look away. Read their words. Share a kind word. It may be you and me one day. And instead of having the liberty to write tons of words that are sure to be read, we could be praying that someone will look long enough, to read the few words we can fit on our cardboard. Ever think about what you would say? I wouldn't have enough room... 

Comments (14)

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Having been forced to live in a run-down hostel for two months in 2009, I can safely say that anything truly does help. It's a fine line between helping and enabling. I once gave a homeless man a five dollar bill on Christmas Eve. He looked at me...

Having been forced to live in a run-down hostel for two months in 2009, I can safely say that anything truly does help. It's a fine line between helping and enabling. I once gave a homeless man a five dollar bill on Christmas Eve. He looked at me with contempt and replied: "Is that all ya got?" I wanted to snatch the money back. But then I realized that I could afford to be offended and he had nothing at all to lose. So I merely shook my head and walked away. Thanks for sharing this story.

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haha! Ya I've been ripped off for 20 bucks before... it was the last time I gave money to anyone holding a sign. I lived out of a van for year and experienced for myself the trials and tribulations of being homeless... lots of freedom but you...

haha! Ya I've been ripped off for 20 bucks before... it was the last time I gave money to anyone holding a sign. I lived out of a van for year and experienced for myself the trials and tribulations of being homeless... lots of freedom but you also become a shart stain to society. I guess my whole point with this piece is to remind people to be grateful and empathetic...

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A wonderful synopsis of the situation. Too many to help, its a epidemic and a crime. Thanks for alerting others to the total failure of our goverment.

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I do belive it's a failure of society my friend, but government is obsolete. It's up to us now...

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Oh man! I wished I had known the goverment was obsolete, I wouldn't of payed my taxes last year. ha ha) The problem with this "theory" is that it requires involvement in more than a small group, which I don't need to tell you that the large...

Oh man! I wished I had known the goverment was obsolete, I wouldn't of payed my taxes last year. ha ha) The problem with this "theory" is that it requires involvement in more than a small group, which I don't need to tell you that the large obsolete group keeps everyone thinking about other things like money, business, religion, family, cars, bla, bla, bla.

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I thought a couple lines at the beginning and end of this story were a bit predictable, and detracted from the THOUGHT-PROVOKING and FASCINATING content in the middle! The humor and sadness in this piece are palpable! There MUST be a better way...

I thought a couple lines at the beginning and end of this story were a bit predictable, and detracted from the THOUGHT-PROVOKING and FASCINATING content in the middle! The humor and sadness in this piece are palpable! There MUST be a better way to set it up and finish it off. (Though I do like the ending--"I wouldn't have enough room...") I'd love to see this in print with a little editing! This story has definitely given me pause to think about people and compassion... thank you for sharing!

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Great piece to make us think wicked. My two cents worth is that we must be careful to allow ourselves to absolve. Alcoholism is a disease, addiction is a disease, over-eating, obesity, all diseases. there is no room anymore it seems for...

Great piece to make us think wicked. My two cents worth is that we must be careful to allow ourselves to absolve. Alcoholism is a disease, addiction is a disease, over-eating, obesity, all diseases. there is no room anymore it seems for personal responsibility. This creates a culture in which no one is responsible for their own actions. Oh well, enough soapbox oratory.

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@Vangoman - I pay taxes too, and I am watching the same bullshit on TV as the next guy... I too have been programmed to worry about my own before the unknown... but there has to come a time when we look around. It is not the government's job to...

@Vangoman - I pay taxes too, and I am watching the same bullshit on TV as the next guy... I too have been programmed to worry about my own before the unknown... but there has to come a time when we look around. It is not the government's job to "fix" homelessness. (Their idea of that by the way, is street sweeps and jail) It is OUR job to take care of one another. To not pass judgement. To look at ALL people as our "own"!!! I can blow wind all day but eventually we will have to come to terms with the state of our souls not just our nation... and I do believe it's inevitable...

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@Nyssa - I agree. I have been working on this piece for quite some time and originally it started as poetry but grew to prose. I think that I missed a few perceptions and that it could be fleshed out a LOT more. I am always up for a challenge......

@Nyssa - I agree. I have been working on this piece for quite some time and originally it started as poetry but grew to prose. I think that I missed a few perceptions and that it could be fleshed out a LOT more. I am always up for a challenge... let me know if you would be interested in editing me... Thx! P.S. Welcome!!!

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I wish upon a star that your belief will go that far, and I know this answer of yours is the right one, But look around the world-not just here-India starving-50 countries at war with themselves, killing is becomming like a case of the flu....

I wish upon a star that your belief will go that far, and I know this answer of yours is the right one, But look around the world-not just here-India starving-50 countries at war with themselves, killing is becomming like a case of the flu. Wicked, look at my words I write they are love, emotions, and hope, but as each sunrise has begun my day the sunset takes it away. Your answer is correct that it will be the people, but not until we tear down our berlin wall - when we want freedom as much as the east, that's how it will change. Only when the people can't take anymore will all these things change and your idea's will become truth.

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