Today for A Week Of Positive Blogging, we are to write about a time in our life when we helped someone.
It was a Friday afternoon. I left work early because I was in a really bad mood, I was tired and the weather was getting bad. The rain had begun to fall and I was just wanting to get to the train before rush hour. I didn't feel like the crowds and pushing and having to stand up all the way home.
The last thing on my mind was helping anyone but myself. I was thinking about a nice hot shower, something to eat, my bed and a good book.
As I left work for some reason I decided that I didn't want to take the train like usual. I guess I just didn't feel like being underground. So I walked to the bus instead. I went a sort of back way. I guess I was trying to save a few steps.. It was fall so it was already getting dark. As I walked I remember thinking that it was really stupid of me to walk this way because it was kind of deserted. But I kept walking.
I could see someone sitting in a door way as I walked. I should have crossed the street but I didn't. As I approached the person in the doorway it appeared that they were homeless. I saw the outline of a person with a blanket wrapped around them. When I got to the doorway the person asked for some change. I didn't look at them directly and I didn't respond. As I passed the person said that they were trying to get food.
A rush of thoughts went through my head all at once. I thought a person in this outrageously wealthy city is sitting in a doorway asking for food. I just stopped walking, I turned around and walked back to the person sitting in the doorway.
The person was a man, with a scraggly beard, he looked young and old at the same time. I had a friend that used to say that he felt too old to start his life over again and too young to give up. I thought about that as I looked at this man in the doorway. I told him that if he wanted something to eat that I would buy him some food.
He didn't hesitate, he got to his feet and said thank you. he told me that he would eat whatever I bought him, that he wasn't picky.
I told him to come with me. I suppose I was thinking that I would buy him a burger and some fries. There were a few fast food places in the area. So we walked. We walked in silence. I really didn't know what to say. I felt sort of awkward waking down the street with this stranger and a homeless stranger yet.
I finally asked him his name. He said it and I had to ask him to repeat it. He did and I still didn't understand. Finally he said it very slow, Hoo-shang. I repeated it, Hoo-shang. Yes he said, that's it. He told me he was Persian, from Iran. I told him my name and asked how long he'd been homeless. He said that he had been on the street for about eight months. That he was a cab driver but lost his job because he got into arguments with his fares and enough of them complained that he was fired. He went on to say that after he was fired that he felt bitter about it and just sort of sat around for a couple of weeks being angry.
He told me that when he finally went looking for work it was already too late, because his rent was due and he was afraid to give his land lord the little bit of money he had. So instead he just packed a few things and left his apartment. He said he left all of his belongings in the apartment.
I heard the sadness in his voice when he said that.
I can't imagine what it must be like to leave all of your things behind. I told him that I lost a picture of a friend that was no longer a friend once. I didn't know if I would ever see or talk to that person again so when I lost their picture it was heartbreaking.
He looked really sad.
We walked to a nearby Wendy's restaurant. I asked him if Wendy's was okay. He looked at me and laughed and said 'what are you kidding me, Wendy's is great'. He smiled.
So Wendy's it was on a rainy Friday evening, me and my new friend Hooshang.
When we got to the counter to order I told him to get whatever he wanted. He looked at me with this incredulous look. Like he was thinking is she serious, doesn't she know I'm starving! I smiled and said really, get what you want.
He ordered a couple of burgers, fries, a frosty, a salad and asked for water. I ordered a frosty. I'm not sure if I had really planned to sit with him. I don't think that was my original plan but I liked the guy. He had a genuine smile and although I'm sure many a serial killer had a nice smile, I felt relatively safe sitting in Wendy's.
The food came and we sat down. The rain was really coming down outside. I thought about getting soaked on the way to the bus and that I had walked a few blocks out of my way.
After we sat I asked him about Iran. He told me he was from a little island on the Caspian Sea. He said that when he was a little kid he didn't even realize that he lived on an Island. He told me about his family. He said he had brothers and sisters, I can't remember how many. He said that he was the oldest and that he came to the U.S. for college in the 70's. He told me a bit about his college days in Sacramento or Modesto, I can't remember which. He said that his family sent him to go to college so that that he could help them, being the oldest.
He was really open with me. He said that he had flunked out of school and was too embarrassed to tell his family. He told me that he was drawn in by the party atmosphere in college and missed class a lot.
I was shocked to hear that he had not spoken to his family since then. That after he flunked out of school he moved to San Francisco and had never gotten in touch with them. He told me he was living with a lot of guilt and shame.
I asked him if he had ever been married. He told me that soon after he moved to San Francisco, years before, that he had met a woman and was in love with her. He said that he wanted to marry her but he felt that it would be wrong to start a family since he was estranged from his own family.
I though to myself, wow, this guy is in a strange country, homeless, guilt ridden and all alone.
We talked a little more. He asked about me, where I was from, was I married, stuff like that. After about thirty minutes I felt like I needed to go. I sort of hesitated. I didn't really know how to express what I was thinking and feeling. I just felt so bad for this guy. I just couldn't imagine being so alone in the world and having to live on the street on top of that.
I finally asked him if he would let me help him. I told him I knew someone that worked in social services and maybe they could help him get in to a shelter or find a job. But he declined. He said that I'd already done a lot for him. I told him that I hadn't really done anything, just bought a meal for him, no biggie.
He said that it wasn't the meal. It was that I talked to him like he was human. That I looked him in the eye. That I asked him about his life. He told me that he had not felt like a real person in a long while, but that he did then as we talked.
I said goodbye to my friend Hooshang, from a little island on the Caspian Sea. For a long time after that I walked to the bus the way that I walked that night hoping to see him. I never did. I hope he's okay.