Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Never Know What to Do

The homeless woman stands in the intersection on the access road to the interstate, a tiny scribbled sign I can't even begin to read in her hands and I never know what to do.

I give cash freely, if I have it to spare, when someone on the sidewalk asks. But this standing in traffic scares me – the element of danger is just too great. What if walking up to take my lousy two bucks a car speeds by and hits her? I am afraid to roll down my window and increase the danger already present in the busy intersection filled with distracted drivers.

One lane over a guy in a cable company service truck rolls his window down and motions her over. I hold my breath. He hands out a sandwich wrapped in foil and a juice box. The woman unwraps the sandwich hastily and in that gesture is everything, how very hungry she is and why she's willing to stand in traffic. She bites into it gratefully and her eyes meet mine. I smile, hoping that if my courage failed me in one sense that I can still offer her this: I can see her.

The light turns green and I drive away and I never know what to do.

1 comment:

  1. It's such an assault on all that's decent...I had over cash when I have it and I always envision him/her in a better place...