A friend and I went to Columbia intending to go on a tour of homes. On the way, however, we got sidetracked by returning an earlier purchase and then doing some unneeded (but fun) shopping. It became imperative that I purchase a green lamp for my guestroom, and she felt the urgent need to buy some butter cream scented candles.
Heading downtown, we got sidetracked and rode through some lovely residential areas and finally arrived at a unique store specializing in originally designed jewelry. What a fun place! We even got to sample chocolate coated strawberries and cheese cake drizzled on pink spoons. Yum. Before leaving, Connie spied a lovely two-strand turquoise and silver necklace with her name on it. In high spirits (was it the cheesecake or the glittering array of jewelry?), we decided to drive farther into the city to a truly unique jewelry store near the university. As I was maneuvering my trusty Camry into the only available parking spot, we saw him…only we couldn’t tell for certain if it was a he or a she. The homeless person was so disheveled that we couldn’t determine the gender for certain. The individual’s clothing appeared lumpy, as if all of his worldly goods, including whatever might have been discovered on a day of walking
Columbia’s downtown streets, were beneath the oversized blue sweatshirt.
Connie and I looked at each other, swallowed hard, and then marched right into the store, perhaps hoping to forget the image that had so disconcerted us. How were we supposed to have fun with that sad sight in our minds? Nevertheless, a few minutes in Handpicked, and our consciences were quiet. Thirty minutes and a few dollars later, the material girls emerged laughing and chatting about what was next on our agenda. Then we saw the person again. This time he was sitting on a bench right outside of the store, his bearded chin resting on his chest as he napped, his hair matted and filthy. We got in the car and discussed the homeless situation in
Columbia…and indeed everywhere. What should we do? What could we do?
Quiet for the first time that day, both of us thinking of what we’d seen, we looked to our right and saw another homeless man standing behind a tree, a bag of possessions at his feet. What can be done? Who are these people? Where are their families? Are they schizophrenics with no medication? Were they once employed in “safe” jobs that somehow ended? Is there no one who loves them?
What are we to do if we truly desire to be good Samaritans?