Saturday, July 12, 2014
Streetwise in suburbia
So, while on break from work, I walked over to the nearby Whole Foods to pick up some chips to go with my lunch. As usual, there was a Streetwise vendor out front; also as usual, the good people of Evanston not only walked right by the poor guy, but refused to make eye contact.
If you live in a major city, you probably have a local equivalent to Streetwise. Basically, they give people living in poverty shelter and job training. In return, these folks go out to sell newspapers for money. Half of it goes back to the organization, half to the vendor.
I always try to scrounge up a couple of dollars for the men or women who are out all day. If I don't have any cash, I can get them something from the store. Today's gentleman politely asked if I could get him a bunch of bananas. No problem.
Meanwhile, the local citizens were staying as far away from the man as they could, walking on the opposite side, running into each other. He didn't smell bad. He was well dressed. Nothing particularly threatening. Streetwise vendors don't even ask for money, they just cry out the name of their paper. Yet, all these well-to-do people seemed very afraid.
And I'm not writing about this out of pride; it's not a big thing to help someone out now and then. I'm writing this out of disgust. This is a supposedly liberal, well-to-do suburb. The median income is $68,051 (from my point of view, that's a five-year budget). Yet no one can stop to say hello to a man, who is following all the rules of our society and working for his money, much less buy him a few bananas or an orange juice.