Hard heart in San Francisco

About once every week or two, I indulge in a guilty pleasure and enjoy a small fries and double cheeseburger from the $1 menu at McDonald’s. I know, I know, it’s horrible for you. That’s why I indulge only once every week or two. Anyway, I was on my way into McDonald’s last night when I was accosted by one of the many homeless who decorate the fair city of San Francisco. They’re everywhere.

I’ve lived in a few decent sized cities, and I’ve traveled enough to see homeless everywhere. But when I moved here, I was stunned by the sheer number of homeless, especially in my area. We live in an area that is popular with tourists, and the homeless are always hanging around to beg from them. Tourists might be the smartest people elsewhere, but they turn into complete idiots as soon as they step off the plane. That’s a topic for another post, though.

Anyway, this particular homeless man gave me a pitiful look and recited his line about needing money for food, something like “Please, sir, I’m trying to get enough money to buy a little food.” As usual, I averted my eyes to avoid him and walked on by. But then something stopped me. Being hungry sucks, and I can easily afford to buy this guy some food. So I turned around, went back, told him that I was heading into McDonald’s, and asked him what he’d like.

He looked me square in the eyes, and said “I was actually trying to get enough to buy a half-pint of vodka.” He then turned and walked away.

When I first moved here, I had a hard time walking past people who have nothing and who are begging for a few pennies to buy some food. I felt something for those people. But after awhile, and after a few encounters like this, it’s hard to not become a little cynical. It’s still sad, and I will still offer to buy food for homeless people from time to time, but my emotion about the situation has largely been removed. Maybe it’s for the best.