Today I’m writing about an experience that I had this morning. One of my best friends visited my home this week; she left this morning. Her flight left at 6:00 am, I dropped her off to the airport just before 5:00 am. Work started for me at 8:00 am and the earliest the school doors open is 7:30 am. I didn't want to travel all the way home and risk being late because I knew I was going to fall back asleep and plus the morning traffic in South Florida can be horrific. Therefore, I decided to find a safe place near the school to close my eyes and catch a few more Z’s. The neighborhood in which one of my school is located is not the safest. But I wanted to find someplace near the school so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the morning traffic when it was time for me to report.
I thought I would go to the neighborhood Cracker Barrell because I thought it would be open with lots of people around. However, it was closed. So I went to the Extended stay parking lot next door. There were lots of cars and even a few people standing outside who seemed to be waiting for a ride. I find a somewhat secluded parking spot hoping that no one from the establishment was watching and would ask me to leave.
Once I was settled, I tried my best to get comfortable with no avail. I reclined the front seat, laid in the back seat on my back, my side and my stomach, nothing worked! I was finally able to sit up in the back corner seat with my legs laying on the console between the front seats. I set the alarm on my phone and dozed off. This had to be the worse nap I had ever taken! I was uncomfortable and I literally had three nightmares in the short time I was asleep. I dreamed that I witnessed a murder and was seen by the perpetrators so they were trying to kill me so that I would not call the police. I dreamed a man was trying to rape me; and a man was trying to bulldoze my car with me in it.
This experience got me to thinking about all of the homeless people living in cars and on the streets; many of them children. Can you imagine the psychological damage being homeless does to an individual? To a single mother? Children? Men? Yes, there have always been homeless people and I did not just notice them. I’m the one who stops traffic at times to give them cash. I am also the one who prays for them as I see them on the side of the road with their signs.
What I experienced was nothing compared to what homeless individuals must be faced with on a daily basis. The stress, pressure, and the pain. Many of their basic needs are not met: Psychological, Safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization (Maslows Hierarchy of needs). I realize that I am truly blessed! Many people are only a paycheck or a tragedy away from being homeless. We need to take care of each other because we are our brother's keeper. We must have empathy for each other no matter race, color creed or sexual identity. If we did, this world would be a much better place. We have to do better taking care of ourselves and others.
The poem says:
Walk a mile in my shoes…
See what I see,
Hear what I hear,
Feel what I feel,
Then maybe we will understand why I do what I do…
Until then, don’t judge me.
A version of Mary T. Lathrap Original
Until next time be well.