Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Good Deed?

I just spent nine bucks on a headscarf and was walking home in the freezing cold, wishing I had remembered to wear gloves. Then I saw a person lying in the doorway of a bustling Chinese restaurant, apparently asleep, even in this frigid weather, he was curled up, head bent toward the doorway, as if seeking warmth. I felt the usual twinge of "Damn, that's sad" but kept walking.

The more I walked, the more uncomfortable I got. Have I become this apathetic? It's one thing not to give money on the train, it's another to let a human being freeze to death when I have the power to do something. Anything...

Yellow Pages were no help, but there is the Web. A quick search for homeless outreach got me dialing 311 and the operator connected me to the 24-Hour Mobile Street Outreach and Emergency Shelter Hotline. There was a long automated menu, with different options for people seeking shelter depending on their age, gender, and pregnancy status. Before I could brood on all those differentiations, a live person picked up. I stumbled through my words, thankfully, she was very direct and to the point in getting the address and time last seen of the person I'm getting help for, she even offered to put me on the mailing list.

After I hung up, I felt so energized, I was all smug, thinking "Thank goodness I didn't stay out tonight, or else who would have helped him..." I thought about actually going out there again to see if a van did come by and rescue him but didn't. I have a long way to go yet when it comes to being a real Samaritan, but it's a start.