Here is a story. Short but long enough to overwhelm me.
Just about a week after my come back from NYC. I wake up, do all what you are supposed to do once you wake up and get ready to leave my appartment. I go into my metro station. I have just missed the train. Hmmm, too bad but ok, let’s wait four minutes before the next comes.
A homeless person come to me. Except being slightly tipsy, he doesn’t look so bad… in a way that he has many clothes on him, shoes… apparently enough to keep his body warm until the summer comes back.
I try to make him understand very kindly that I don’t have any change on me ( Which was true ). He was actually not asking for any money, just wanted to show what he called “Bozo”.
Bozo is a pen. He fixed a kind of propeller on the tip of it. On the body of that pen, he notched the whole length with a knife and with a little piece of wood, rubs it all along. That move creates a physique reaction that causes the propeller to turn fast without even touching it.
He doesn’t seem to be a bad guy and I still have 3 mn to wait so I finally decide to let him talk to me. His name is Jean-Claude. He just wants to talk. I ask him about that physique phenomenom. He is glad I did.
After briefly explaining me, he askes my name. I say ” Emilie”. Suddenly, I can see that a kind of shock happens in his eyes. He looks around like he is destabilized or doesn’t know where he is anymore. He looks at me again and I can see his eyes full of tears. With a shaking voice he asks me my age. I say 21. He then tells me that he has a daughter, not much older than me. He gives me a smile, apologized and say goodbye. With tenderness, I tell him he certainly doesn’t have to apologize to me and wish him a year as good as possible. He returns to the seat where other homelesses are sitting. My train arrives, I get into it. The doors take some time before closing. During these little seconds, I see him, his face in his hands, melting into tears. He starts to tell the story to his friends who are asking. The doors finally close. The train is leaving the station and I find myself completely overwhelmed by what just happened. I’m shaking and can feel the tears coming.
I realized that those men that we see everyday in the streets, those men who are marginalized, had a life before and were maybe not so different than we are. What may have happened for them to end in that situation? What is the event that made those men going from having a child named Emilie to the metro station?
I still meet him when I take my train. However, even though I wanted to talk to him many times, I didin’t. The reason is, that I would like to help him but I don’t know how. Beside, I’m afraid that if I get to know him a little bit, it’s gonna be hard for me to be in my warm and cozy bed while he will be in the metro station or maybe outside having an empty stomack grumbling and his body freezing because of the very cold temperatures. I don’t want not to know him because I want to keep living my comfortable situation but just because I feel powerless. I’m not a materialistic person even though I enjoy many goods and others. Thanks to my education, I know that family is what we need to live and be happy. Money is necessary yes but it is also secondary. So I think about this man, who has somewhere a daughter called Emilie who doesn’t talk to him anymore. The reason ? Well, I don’t know, but what I know is that it’s terrible to have our roots somewhere and not being able to get back to them.
I don’t want to make people feel guilty for having a comfortable life by writing this article. I’m not even asking for them to give money to every associations they see even though from time to time it could be a nice action to do. I just think that we shouldn’t forget those people and nourish their marginalization. Having a thought for them from time to time can already be a first step. To where ? I don’t know, YOU know. What I know is that giving a smile doesn’t cost anything and can warm a heart up. We don’t know how broad ripples caused by little actions we do can be.