Feb. 6th, 2017

mmerriam: (Default)

Originally published at Michael Merriam. You can comment here or there.

I want to talk with you more about my previous post concerning the homeless couple having sex in the Uptown Transit Station.

Yes, the story was amusing. Yes, the story had a WOW! factor. Yes, the story was a bit shocking. Yes. All of that.

But as entertaining and amusing as the story is, it is also a story filled with terrible pathos. These are real people in this story, people who are barely hanging on, or maybe not hanging on at all: people who are homeless and hungry and cold and sick and possibly mentally ill. People who find themselves needing to trade their bodies for food or a shower or a warm place to sleep because their bodies might well be the only thing they have left to trade.

And there are no angels in this. When I read this to my Beloved Spouse, she pointed out that people don’t usually talk to each other at the transit station or bus stops, especially not Minnesotans. Yet here they are, engaged in conversation, stressed and strained, trying to ignore what is happening just a few feet away, trying to ignore not only the couple copulating, but also Stan and Tim, both of who are also obviously on the fringe of our society.

Maybe some of them, like me, thought about doing something. But embarrassment and being unsure what to do stopped me, and as someone pointed out in a comment about the story over on Facebook, “Face it, this scene is a perverse testament to Minnesota Nice, but underneath people were probably seething. The masked revulsion, shame, and self-justifications for doing nothing must have been eating away at all the commuters.”

There is so much truth in this statement. I thought about calling St. Stephens Street Team, but I didn’t, and once it seemed like they were all going to be someplace warm and with food and a measure of safety that night, I went on about my own business when my bus rolled up because I had the privilege, the money, the mental health, the ability and skills, even in this broken body of mine, to go to the store and buy cheese.

And those four people at the Transit Station – they don’t. It’s important to remember that. It is important to remember that these four human beings are vulnerable, pushed to edge. They are the kind of people we look past, that have become invisible to society.

I don’t have any answers. I barely have the right questions. But I would implore you and I to remember to be kind, to witness for them, to not let them be invisible.

April 2017

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