A few days ago, an acquaintance of mine shared something that reminded me of my own experience. She and her husband had stopped at a gas station when a homeless man asked for some change. When he was given change, the man then asked her husband if he could get him some coffee, to which her husband sarcastically replied, “oh, would you like that with cream too?”

I live in an area where homelessness is a common phenomenon. About three weeks ago, I was walking back to the house when a homeless man asked me for a cigarette. Assuming he meant change, I opened my purse and pulled out the only two dollars I had on me. What he did next completely took me by surprise: he handed me a dollar of my money back and asked me to go in the corner store and get him a cigarette. It took me a few seconds to comprehend what he was asking of me. When I sternly said no! he explained that the shop owner wouldn’t let him in the store. By this point, I was already disappointed. I shook my head and walked on. Maybe if he had said “thank you” and politely asked, I might have entered the store and bought him a cigarette, but he was not polite at all.

PS. For Keith!

Published by Msdedeng

Most importantly, I am a daughter, a wife, and a friend. I am also a student who still has lots to learn.

62 thoughts on “Homelessness

  1. It’s just so complex of an issue, but you are right, can’t force help if they don’t want it. The question is though, what kind of help do they need? Beaton’s comment made me realize that it is not what we always the kind of help we think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your comment a lot, because it goes to show that all we think we know about homelessness are our own assumptions based on stereotypes. And your reaction is what most of us find ourselves doing, rather than listen to what they actually have to say. I am of a view now that my guy’s desperation for a cigarette was perhaps his only way of coping with an already harsh world. I should have got him the darn cigarette. Perhaps the reason my woman does not want to talk to me sometimes is that she thinks my kindness is pity for her situation, and she wouldn’t be wrong to think that, either. This comment came at the right time for me. I am now going to change my approach of her and see how she reacts. Thank you so much, B.


  3. Had a similar experience except for a couple stark contrasts, ONE when I offered the gent money he actually refused and said he had money TWO he was very polite and soft spoken and explained how he the shop owner didn’t allow him inside and he badly needed a smoke as it helped him cope.. Initially before having spoken to him I had tried to give him wide berth and tried not make eye contact and when I saw him walk towards me, I had dug into my pockets found some change and thrust and then he refused it….
    I bought him the cigarettes

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Homelessness is everywhere in my city too. Most are nice and polite when they ask, few are not. I guess, like everyone else, every homeless person is different on how they ask help on people. Overall, it is a sad circumstance no one should be in. Once, a teenager waited for us to finish our food in Santa Cruz, then after we were finish , he asked if he can have our left overs. He didn’t ask for anything else. He looked very hungry and lost. It was heart breaking. It made me wonder where his parents were. It made me think of how could left him alone to fend for himself. The world can be cruel.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. They have to want the help themselves… and trust, has a huge hand in how they react. As well as any possible substances or mental issues of course.

    The government doesn’t help like you think it does.

    If they don’t want help – there is nothing you can do but just continue to offer kindness.

    What we think must be horrible, some prefer or don’t mind? 🤷‍♀️

    It just really depends on what their circumstances are, and if there is still a stable mind left.

    Is very hard to see people struggle ☹️ and we all know how hard this world can be. Suppose doesn’t matter where. Our government does nothing to solve either

    Well I ask about Uganda because I had something going on and I could only speak to a “Ugandan community leader”?? 🤷‍♀️ why they not let me speak to who we need? They said they in charge ?? What??

    What is this and who is that? I assumed was a culture thing??

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Trish, it’s been a long time I have heard from you. I absolutely loved reading your comment for several reasons. For one, you are right when you say to be careful because you do not know what you are dealing with. I know this homeless girl on Main St., whom I have been trying to get close to. Some days, she is as sweet as can be and open to a chit chat, but other times, she completely shuts down as if my presence is a pain to her. Anyway, I respect the times she is in one of those “don’t bother ” moods. The thing is, she is so sober, intelligent, and very aware, but her moods have made any approach a bit difficult. And there are many other homeless people on this street i am talking about, but none like her. I really want to help anyhow I can but find it a challenge. Other times, I am like, I don’t even know her story or who she is. What if I am dealing with somebody with a complex background? Like you say, a homeless man in your area just murdered a woman. You know what I am saying?
    To answer your question about community leaders, I am surprised I mentioned that; I think I meant community, period. Yes, there are homeless people in Uganda’s city and some urban areas, but it is last resort in their case. Usually, immediate family or extended family members take charge of their well being. However, a capitalist economy is the order of the day there too, so even if family members were willing to look after them, the lack of resources to do so dictates that they abandon these people. It is very sad all around, but we lean on family and not government, because our governments are as good as dead. Dead as in nonexistent. I hope this gives you an idea of the other world.
    How are you doing though?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I worry will get worse with unemployment benefits ending and rental assistance??

    It’s very hard, and even if someone was just down on their luck – it would take the human kindness of others absolutely to help them stand back up!!

    But there are also some who prefer to live freely? Or how they wish?

    America used to have mental institutions – but there are so many horror stories with that – those all closed and is no longer the same.

    Horrible stories of that!

    And so… how do you solve it? It’s bad in Sacramento too… some are mentally disabled, some are on drugs or alcohol. Some just do not care anymore. Life can beat some down.

    So compassion and human kindness … but also be cautious. Right next door to one of my funeral homes, one mentally disturbed homeless man, killed a woman just a week ago. So just careful because you also don’t know what you deal with. Not meant meanly – just cautiously.

    Off subject totally (sorry) …
    What is a community leader? What do they do? Not asking about America (I already know community leaders here 🙄, but I do not believe it is the same exactly?) somewhat?? But I do not think I understand what that is? I want to know specifically for Uganda if you can tell me. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thanks so much for generating it Angela, it was very thought provoking and no view is right or wrong … we all translate our experiences with regard to our own backgrounds and personal experiences! Take care precious and enjoy your studies 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, if we don’t listen to alternative perspectives we might never learn the other side of the story. I thank you for your honesty. Be safe my friend.


  10. I really needed this, Kate. I discussed your view with my husband, and we had a good conversation about it. Everyone’s perspective was interesting to me and expanded my view on homelessness and those caught in it. Thank you so much for being an active part of the conversation. I truly appreciate it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. impressive contributions here Angela … by being so open you have generated a lively discussion presenting all aspects of the issue and just how vastly different we all respond, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Outside in is about a 36-38 year old man who was sent to prison for a crime he was present for but wasn’t responsible for, but he didn’t rat out the culprit. A teacher of his, played by the wonderful Edie Falco, wrote him, called him and aligned with an organization, finally got him freed from being in their for life. He has fallen for her. He comes back to his small town in the Pacific NW and attempts to move forward, hindered by the 20 years he has lost in prison, and by our US system that makes it very difficult for an ex-con to find a job and rebuild a life. It is about loss, support or lack of it, belonging, and new beginnings, redemption.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. After watching “Outside In”, I googled the movie and found other movies Jay Duplass was involved in and was led to the other two. I’ve seen several other movies that Mark Duplass is in and loved them.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You are right, and I thank you for point it out for me. 1, I assumed he meant money when he specifically said cigarettes (someone on here pointed this out for me, and how true). 2, I expected politeness when the guy could have had psychological problems that would obviously hinder reason or manners. Keith, I am still learning and hopefully I will treat the next homeless person better. Thank you for educating me on the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love Indie movies, movies with conversation and character development. I watched several Duplass brother movies, including “Outside In”, “Paddleton” and “Blue Jay”.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Not to diminish the serious subject, or your trying circumstances, Angela, but it is nice to have you back again.

    Now, as for the interaction you describe, you handled it as well as any of us would have. Even with the luxury of distance, both in time and in situation, I scarcely can imagine a better way someone such as we, with both a heart and a mind, could have conducted herself.

    What makes this all more harrowing is the unfortunate and all-too-common overlap between homelessness and psychological challenges. You probably didn’t think about this at the time, but what if your interlocutor…hadn’t taken your response well?

    Part of the problem, I think, is in assuming the homeless are so much debris, merely helpless victims of larger forces, be it government policy, the economy, society, etc. Each of these factors, in part, brought the homeless to their current desperate pass, but we never should forget most of this sprung from a succession of poor decisions.

    The solution, provided one exists, defies my unequal powers, but as for your particular specifics, Angela, you did well. Again, generosity augmenting sensibility…or vice-versa.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You remind me of an African Economic scholar named Dambisa Moyo, whose argument I agree with to a large extent. Her argument is that, aid (in this case foreign aid) will not fix Africa’s problem of poverty. What will do is if Africa manufactures her own goods and is an equal player on the world trade market. This way, she will earn money while creating jobs for the masses.

    Thank you for a different perspective.


  18. This is such a troubling issue. I feel terrible for people having to deal with homelessness but it makes you question reality when one part seems so in control while the other is actually struggling.
    I hope one day, our leaders implement a solution that proves healthy for all. Hope you’ve been well.


  19. Everyone here is very supportive, sympathetic, and well-meaning. I’m the Grinch. Don’t you open your purse or wallet to share your last or a little. People are desperate. I feel for the unhoused, but I don’t like being hawked or begged from. Learned to girdle my feelings after a trip to India. I believe their beggars are organized.

    The homeless crisis is bigger than individuals. This is a system crisis and individual handouts are not going to cut it. The community should not be expected to fix this. It is way out of our control.

    Be safe. Politely refuse all begging and step away lively. And let’s find some ways to pressure our elected to do more about the problem than criminalize it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sounds like a movie I would find interesting. “Immense struggle” is an understatement. Keep up with the daily walks, those are like medicine for the soul. Thank you for your kind words, Katelon.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Those who control this world are responsible for homelessness Angela, wars, poverty, death, disease, ….all of it. They have a very sick agenda. Hoping we will succeed soon and this nightmare will end.

    I just saw a very powerful movie, “Outside In”, about a 38 year old man finally free after 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and his relationship with his High school teacher who worked with an organization to get him freed. It showed so beautifully the tragedy of someone attempting to adjust to world on the outside again and the immense struggles of finding a job, fitting in. It left me contemplating for a long time….how does this guy ever get ahead or make a life for himself. Yes, presently, there are so many in the position of struggling to make enough to live. The eviction moratorium was just thrown out by the Supreme court, leaving millions soon out of homes. And that’s just in the US.

    I’ve been ok…..just doing my daily work, going for daily walks, and finding ways to stay in peace. Hope you are doing well. I’ve missed seeing posts from you.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. No, you are right, this is the first post in a while. I think you have answered some of my questions. I was here blaming the government of some harsh policies that have perhaps led to homelessness, but like you suggest, this is a had one to figure, plus there are many causes to homelessness. How anyone can fake it is beyond me.
    I hope you are doing well despite the long list of things that need to be tended to. be safe my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Oh, I have thought about that a million times and while it breaks my heart, it makes me ever so grateful for a roof over my head. Kate, life shouldn’t be lived like this, as humans, we need to do better to see to it that a fellow human being has food in their bellies and warmth. Maybe I am being naive, but it really shouldn’t be like this for many.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. We truly live in an economy reminiscent of slavery and everything else you have said is correct. Katelon, homelessness is such a big issue in California, and getting worse. Surely the government must do something about it? But at the same time, I believe that bad policy by the very government officials is largely responsible to the problem of homelessness. For starters, housing prices is over the roof. There is also the problem of labeling people who have committed crimes as felons, whether a minor or a major crime. Whoever has that identification will forever struggle to get a job or rent a house, and where does that leave you? Back to jail or on the streets. Our system truly needs fixing.
    How have you been my dear friend? I hope you are taking it easy on yourself and not trying to carry the worlds weight on your shoulders.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Angela thank you for being honest about your experience. I understand that man’s situation as he really asked you for a cigarette and not change. And I’m learning that if we truly are to give, we have to give without strings. At the same time I see homeless people with dogs and wonder how they can feed and care for the dogs when they are struggling themselves….and yet see the kindness and companionship they have with the animals. I had a man ask me for change to get his diabetes drugs. I opened my wallet to give him a few bucks and he noticed how much else I had in my wallet so asked for more. I was taken back. It is so hard to know what to do. I’m presently living on donations myself and a small amount of social security. I am looking forward to the end of this dark timeline and a time when all are cared for, freed from economic slavery and this timeline of power, control and greed by a few, while the rest suffer greatly in one way or another.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. It is hard to tell who is truly in need. I hear stories of people who make a pretty good amount of money by panhandling when they have both income and a home. Then there are the heartbreaking stories. Many homeless people are mentally ill or have a drug problem.

    When I lived in Sarasota they had a very large Salvation Army with excellent accommodations, a food pantry, and meals. Goodwill employs disabled people and people who have trouble finding a job elsewhere. There may be good resources where you live.

    Angela, I hope you are doing well. This is the first post I have seen from you in a long time. I will go back and check because I have a feeling that I am just not getting them. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you , for empathizing with me, David. Homelessness is heartbreaking and is so complex. I have taken a class that allows me to do research on a subject of interest, and mine will be on homelessness. You be safe now, bye!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. This whole situation is very complicated. Don’t blame yourself, my dear. There will be other situations and your vision has already changed. What is important is this and the lesson we have from our actions. loving arm


  29. Oh honey, I have beat up myself about it for days now. How could I forget that their lives are so rough manners are the least of their problems? You have put in the missing puzzle; I was quick to judge the poor man on manners, rather than look at his situation for answers.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. sadly the store owners watch them begging out front all day, and some get a lot … but to spend that change on cigarettes is maybe not the most skilful use of donations. Sorry for your experience but many are desperate these days and the homeless are so vulnerable they’ve forgotten their manners.

    Liked by 1 person

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