Two Teens And Their Mama: Homeless For One Hour

Monday, August 18, 2014

Homeless For One Hour


Last week I was homeless for one hour.  Which I realize is a ridiculous statement and I am in no way trying to equate my experience with that of a person who is truly without a home, day in and day out.  But that one hour led to an epiphany of sorts.  I'll try to explain.

My younger son had tickets to a concert in Seattle, which is a 45 minute drive from our house on a good day, with no traffic.  Which rarely happens.  So we'll call it an hour and a half drive into the city.  T has had his license for a year, but he hasn't had a lot of experience with rush hour traffic, or city driving.  Plus, the venue wasn't in the best part of town.

I decided that the only way he and his friend were going to attend this concert was to be chauffeurred by me.  I would find something to do during the show, and then pick them up when it was over. 

I dropped the boys off at 6:30pm, then headed to the mall.  Several hours of uninterrupted shopping, all to myself!  The stores closed at 9:30pm, so I figured the timing would be perfect to grab the guys at 10, and be back home by 11.  

As is the norm with my brilliant plans, however, I hadn't quite thought it all the way through. I forgot the part where they were seeing an alternative rock band, the Arctic Monkeys, who notoriously don't start or end concerts on "normal person" time.  I texted T at 9:30 as I was heading to my car to see if the show was almost over.  Umm...not even close.  They had just taken the stage 15 minutes before.

Suddenly I had at least an hour and a half to kill, downtown, on a Monday night.  Now what was I going to do?  I drove around until I discovered a well lit grocery store lot, and found a parking spot.  The no loitering sign said I could only stay for 60 minutes.   I figured I could read my book....except I forgot my reading glasses.  Bummer.

I'm downtown, it's late, I'm tired, and I'm bored.  Interesting characters are roaming around the parking lot, and I'm waiting for security to come and boot me out.  Did I mention it was HOT?  It had been 90 in Seattle that day, and the night time temperature was still quite high.  I was nervous about keeping my windows down (see interesting characters above).  Then the thunder and lightning storm started.

That's when I began to feel sorry for myself.  All I could think about was how much I wished I was home in my comfy living room, watching television, safe and sound.  

Just then, I swear, a homeless man walked in front of my car, pushing a shopping cart that was probably filled with every earthly possession he owned.  At that moment the reality of his situation versus mine smacked me in the head, and I felt ashamed.  



At least I had my car to shelter me from the rain and lightning.  If someone came and told me to get out of the parking lot, I could drive to another spot.  I only had to put up with this situation for ONE HOUR. And then I could go back to my beautiful home and my warm bed.

What is my point with this long, rambling story?  I'm not sure exactly.  What I do know is that I can't get that homeless man out of my mind.  He couldn't get out of the storm, and was probably constantly looking over his shoulder, waiting for the next person to move him along, rob him, or worse.  He had no where to go, and his situation wasn't going to get better in an hour.

I have no idea how he ended up walking through that parking lot with his life in a shopping cart. There are many, many reasons why someone ends up homeless, and just as many difficulties to get them back on their feet.  I don't know what the solution is.  Sitting in my car last Monday, watching that man, I felt such sadness, but I also had a realization. There are so many horrible things going on in the world, and while they don't touch me physically, my heart, mind and soul are affected.  Doing SOMETHING must be a step in the right direction.

Getting back to volunteering is one of my goals for the fall.  No more discussion - it's time for action.  I will be looking into opportunities to do some sort of work that benefits the homeless. Any suggestions would be appreciated.  I also came across this great blog post about creating blessing bags to keep in your car.  I wish I had one last Monday night.


Today's problems are huge, and I am very small.  But even the smallest efforts add up over time.  I may have been homeless for only one hour, but hopefully the epiphany I had will last a lifetime.

25 comments:

  1. It's those times when you realize all that you have and how lucky you are! Love the idea of the blessing bag! I'm going to make some for next time we are in the city. Thanks for sharing!

    Jill
    dousedinpink.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Jill. I went from feeling sorry for myself to feeling so lucky in seconds. I love the idea of the blessing bags too.

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  2. Great post! I love that blessing bag idea!

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    1. Thanks Deena! I'm going to make some for my car.

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  3. Powerful moment when we gain new perspective. Those blessing bags sound like a great idea!

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    1. I definitely have a new perspective after my night out.

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  4. The Universe finds ways to send messages at just the right time. Just beautiful!

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    1. I am finding that more and more. Thank you Carol.

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  5. You have done it again Lana, written a post that is clearly straight from your heart!
    You have a wonderful way of expressing vulnerability and empathy, in ways that inspire us because you make your reader feel the emotions of your experiences. I will long remember your homeless man as well - and I plan to keep a blessing bag in my car, ready to hand out.
    Another truly wonderful post.

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    1. Thanks Susan - you are always so kind with your comments. I wish I had a bag to give him that night, but I won't be caught without them again.

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  6. And now it will last forever in mine!
    Those blessing bags look wonderful! I'm going to make some and carry them with me! Thank you for the little slap up the back of the head. I definitely needed it!

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    1. Thanks Diane. I know I needed the slap!

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  7. First of all... the stuff we do for our kids to keep them safe LOL You're a good mom. Secondly I love the blessing bags. It does put things in perspective to see someone struggling to survive. I'm going to take a bag to the homeless man that sits by my health food store. Great and thoughtful post. Have a good day!

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    1. Thank you so much Suzanne. I keep telling my kids what a great mom I am, but I'm not sure they're listening :)!

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  8. Oh I teared up reading this post. We are all guilty of complaining and how bad I feel when I realize I have such minute problems compared to others. I am off to read about Blessing Bags. I think I might have found a new way to be thankful. Thank you for this reminder.

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    1. I'm so glad that you found the blessing bags helpful!

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  9. Great post. So important to notice those little messages when they are handed to us.

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    1. I often miss those messages, but this was a big one! Thanks so much for reading!

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  10. I think the idea of blessing bags is wonderful.
    I think even though you're in a different place than a homeless person, that doesn't mean it's comfortable to be roaming around and not able to settle anywhere.
    It gave you a lot of perspective.

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    1. It definitely gave me perspective. I love the idea of the blessing bags too, and I'm going to have them in my car from now on.

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  11. what i love most about this post is that you are DOING something about it. If more people actually DID something, the world would be, at least a little bit, better place.

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    1. Thanks Shaunacey. It's so hard to know where to start, but I figure something is better than nothing.

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  12. I bet this came from Danielle Steele whonafter her son committed suicide began secretly riding around at night giving these to homeless people. I've always wanted to start something like that, this would be a perfect alternative. I pinned this and I am definitely going to do it!

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    1. I had no idea about Danielle Steele's son - how terrible. I will be handing out these bags too!

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    2. Yes she wrote a book about it. In the book she talks about filling her car up and driving around passing stuff out. Then before long it became a pretty big operation. It's a lovely story but I can't remember the name of it right off hand. Her son's name was Nicholas and he was bipolar and quit taking his meds.

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