I’ve seen her a few weeks in a row. Green tank top. Blue jeans. Black back pack. Blonde hair in a pony tail. Holding a cardboard sign. It says “ Living in my car. God Bless” I think. She stands at one of the busiest insections in Brentwood. I know each time I see her, I wish I had a few bucks in my wallet or at the very least a granola bar I could give her. Tonight she wasn’t there. At least not at the normal time. And then I saw her. At about 8:30. Same tank top, same back pack. I almost turned around the car. What would I say? What would I do? If I let her come to my house would she steal from me? The thought is sort of ridiculous, like how much pink 2 year old Dell laptops are worth on the street?. I wonder if she would just be so grateful for a soft place to lay her aching bones that the thought of being a thief never crossed her mind. The thought crossed my mind that maybe she’s a drug addict. Or maybe she just had a bad string of luck. Maybe she has no family. Or maybe she did. Maybe the family she has hit her or were so horrible that she decided she would be better off on her own. Better off sleeping in a car and free of bruises.
I couldn’t help but think that’s she’s maybe 24 at the most. She should be graduating college or hanging with friends or falling in love. She should be shopping or getting her nails done like most girls her age. She stands there with this look that we would all have on our face if we were begging for our next meal. We could easily be in her place. I know that before I would get a few months behind on rent I have family that would be able to spot me money. Or I could sell something before I got to the point where I was homeless. I know how hard it is to ask family or friends for help; I couldn’t imagine begging for my next dollar or meal standing on a street corner. Hoping the person at the light will stop surfing his phone and hand me a few dollars or at the very least smile at me without pity in his eyes. We could all be a few weeks away from sleeping in our car. Maybe it just comes out of nowhere before you even have time to think about where you are going to get your next meal. Or maybe it’s a slow descent and pride gets in the way. Regardless of how or why, here I am in my cool air conditioned house, belly full of a warm home cooked meal. Watching my favorite show… Where is she? Is she hiding in the bushes from cops? Or sleeping under an overpass to get some cool air that her car doesn’t provide? How does she keep from feeling hopeless? Digging through a dumpster hoping to find food without mold?
I was frustrated tonight because I went to go use some eggs that I had purchased this morning at Publix. And they were no where to be found; how does one lose eggs? I called the store and the check out boy accidentally left them on the counter. Frustrated, I went back and picked them up, they were more then generous and gave me the eggs and reimbursed me. I just wanted my eggs so I could cook my dinner. I couldn’t help but feel guilty wondering when was the last time she had a warm meal. Not one warm from sitting out in the sun either. How is she surviving? She lives on food from strangers? Or money that begging gives her? What if she doesn’t get any money begging? Does she go through trash cans and dumpsters? Think about how gross it is when you accidentally throw something away and you have to dig through the trashcan. It’s disgusting. But you can wash your hands and be ok. She might be going through dumpsters hoping to find her next bite of food, one without maggots. I couldn’t even begin imagine what she is going through. Driving home, I missed my exit not once, but twice being so lost in thought. Trying to figure out how I can help her and what to do. So I made her a care package, maybe she will be there tomorrow. Crackers, pretzels, peanuts, bottle water, socks, T-shirt, jacket, maybe a toothbrush. She looks about a size 6 if any of you have any clothes in that size. It’s the least we can do. She is someone’s daughter, somebody’s sister, someone’s cousin. She deserves food in her belly just like we have. Tonight, I am grateful for my home, gas in my car, food in my fridge and a soft bed to lay on. Let us not forget how grateful we should be.