Sunday, January 18, 2009


Recently, I was entertaining my son-in-law's Mother. Mary is a wonderfully sensitive and gentle mid seventies widow. We're heading to the movie on the bus. This guy gets on and sits right next to her and proceeds to take off his shirt. He's overweight, riddled with tattoos and a bath has not been part of his agenda for sometime. 

I was keeping my eye on him just in case. You almost had to be there but Mary did not look at him. However, the guy next to him goes berserk; hollowing and screaming at him. In the course of the conversation, the shirtless man who is now putting on a shirt he has retrieved from his backpack, says something like, "You people are always picking on the homeless." 

This set the guy off with something like, "You are not homeless but a sorry bum who doesn't care for anybody but himself." And, he throws in a few expletives. At this point, I am convinced that they are going to fist city. They start back and forth, without letting up. 

I'm trying to figure out what to do when mercifully our bus gets to our stop. A funny aspect of this episode is that the guy who was yelling at the initial naked guy was covered in Tattoos, shorts, and a long pony tail which looked a little like Ozzie Osborne at his worst. 

It did get me to thinking, however. Was he right? The guy homeless or bum? I enjoyed columnist Nevius series on the homeless. I would pose a different view, however, homelessness is an intractable dilemma. Mainly, there really are three groups of those on the streets: (1) those who have an entire lifestyle and love living on the streets, (2) those who are mentally ill, and then (3) that very small group that actually could be categorized as homeless with some possibility for help. Overall, it is a problem that cannot be solved, much like immigration, racism, drugs, any of the social ills of today. All we can do is the best we can with it.