I’m a check writer- not a deed doer. I prefer not to see the faces of those in need of any services requiring intervention from an outside agency. Overwhelmed with the momentous enterprise necessary to hoist these now named individuals from said plight, I become paralyzed with hopelessness. Therefore, I don’t do it. It ruins my day. This practice has worked for many years.
Moving to Japan caused a problem in the formerly flawless execution of this philosophy. Guilt caused by a change in this routine led to a calamitous conundrum. Being a believer that one must contribute to the community in which one lives, and incapable until recently of unraveling the mystery that is the post office which resulted in an inability to mail anything including checks, I have become vulnerable to guilt producing images of the downtrodden. Exacerbating the situation, the powder keg got exposed to the match when my attendance at mass was curtailed. The result was an explosion of guilt. All because of a move to Japan.
SO, the other day I went for my usual run in the park. 30 minutes allotted. The park was not crowded on this particular day as the temperature had dropped in to the 40s the previous night. I started my loop. Evidence of the “cleaning” was around. Located on the outskirts of the park, hidden from view is a spotless, orderly, and clean homeless encampment. Every night, hundreds of homeless scour the park picking up fallen branches that are then neatly piled for pick up at the edge of the path. Cans and debris are removed and bagged. The homeless are never seen. In exchange for their “village,” these destitute outcasts conduct a nightly neaten.
As I rounded the park, I saw the one exception to the rule- the one visible homeless man asleep on a bench. I’d seen him around town avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. Asleep on a bench with his head facing my direction I only saw his feet. One foot poked through the top of a shoe torn in half. He had no socks. I’d been running for 10 minutes and my hands were still cold- his feet must have been frozen. How do the Japanese homeless get services such as food and clothes- is there a shelter? I don’t know. His feet were big for a Japanese man. I thought he would have a hard time finding shoes. Then it occurred to me- I had shoes to fit him.
Dang it. The last thing I wanted to do was go home and get shoes for that man. I did not have time. I ran on. Someone else would see he needed shoes- the Japanese are so nice. But no one had so far. Better yet- was there someone else I could bribe who would take the shoes to the man? Hmmm. If I ran home and came back he’d be gone anyway so no sense in trying. Uhh- now I’ve started a competition with myself- could I do it? Well- it didn’t matter-I had too much to do and I needed to get my run in and get home. When I said that it sounded ridiculous. I started to sprint – jog- towards home.
I picked a pair of running shoes that Offspring #1 had outgrown and were sufficiently large for the Homeless man. I grabbed a pair of baseball socks- royal blue but the Homeless man wouldn’t care. Knee high. Back to the park. God was smiling down on me because HE knows I don’t do good deeds. Ever. Maybe I’m becoming more like Spouse. What if I’m becoming a Liberal Democrat?
He was still asleep. Should I wake him up? What if I scared him and he punched me? Hopefully he’d nail the nose- I’m in need of a new one. How do I say “These are for you” in Japanese- who cared. He’d know. He was, let’s say, “Not normal” what if reacted “Abnormally.” Should I drop the shoes and run? Stop, drop and roll? Get out of the way fast? Cautiously I approached, “Sumimasin” (Excuse me) His eyes flew open yet he didn’t move or look me in the face. I gently placed the bag on the ground and skulked away. He closed his eyes.
WHAT!!! NO ROARING APPLAUSE FROM THE CROWD? No jumping in the air shoes held aloft? No bowing? No THANK YOU? NO NOTHING?
Pride goes before a fall.
Text Message to Offspring #1:
Ouiser: I gave the Mizunos you outgrew and a pair of BBall socks to that Homeless man in the park
OF #1: NUN 2 small
Ouiser: Yea- the ones by size 10
OF #1: Dads
WHAT!!!! I gave Offspring #1’s only pair of running shoes that fit to a Homeless man that could care less?
The dinner conversation was reserved. The Clampetts’ recognized a good deed from Ouiser worthy of praise but the negative repercussions overshadowed the act. Offspring #1’s feet, too large for Japanese shoes, would have to be imported from the US necessitating an expeditious and expensive order pronto.
This foray in to do- gooding was not doing anyone any good. Including that ingrate the Homeless man. Humphh.
Why are people loathsome to move? Pushed out of the tried and true routines, individuals stretch beyond comfortable normalcy. And this is what happens.
I eventually went to run off this steam. There was the Ingrate. Snuggled up on his bench, wearing a shiny pair of Mizunos and royal blue ankle high baseball socks.