I thought I would forever regret not having asked his name, until I rolled into the same McDonalds a week later. There he was, just like before, food spread across the table and belongings spilling from an overflowing backpack. He wore the same over-sized Carpenter’s jeans, faded brown T-shirt, and velveteen hoodie with the nap worn down to nothing. When he glanced up I was again I was struck by the twinkling eyes, ruddy cheeks, and grizzled beard that put me in mind of Santa Claus.
“Hello again,” I said. His momentary blank expression turned to a wide smile.
“Well hello, darlin’! You’re back. Didn’t recognize you at first.”
“I don’t think I introduced myself last time. My name is Barbara,”
“Rudy,” he replied, enfolding my soft, manicured hand in his rough calloused paw.
He extricated himself from his pile of belongings and joined me.
We had chatted briefly the previous week about being on the street but now I asked the question that haunts me, where the homeless are concerned. Why?
“Because I travel.” He looked down at the table for a moment, lost in thought. “Folks don’t realize that homeless are same as anyone else. Most of us have had jobs, apartments, been married and had kids – at one time. But I really don’t want to give my money to some landlord. So I sleep in cuts and under bridges. It’s cold sometimes, but I’m from Colorado so it’s not too bad. I wake up shivering, but as soon as sun comes up I’m OK. I’m tough.”
“Do you worry about being mugged?” I asked, recalling recent incidents where homeless were beaten and Continue reading