Disclaimer: I posted this on Facebook in March 2016. This is unedited. When I think about this story, I don't tell it so I look like a saint. I tell it because this was an experience where I was unsure of right and wrong, and what it means to be homeless.
I hope you enjoy reading and find your own lessons in it.
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I was walking home a couple of days ago when I noticed this homeless man in a wheelchair in the middle of the street. Like "blocking traffic" in the middle of the street. So I went over to him and asked if he needed help getting to the curb.
He said he was going all the way to Jack in the Box (about 0.4 miles away), so I rolled my eyes, but then decided to give him a push anyways. I felt bad for him. His jacket was grey, his odor potent, and I swear there was a fly around him. But I had some free time, so I grabbed onto the handles of the wheelchair and off we went.
He told me his name was Kevin Ware, former minor league baseball player and player at USC. I have no ideas if these are lies or not, because I know nothing about baseball. He looks tall enough sitting down, so I believe him. He told me he played with the greats in high school, and that he misses those times. Now his family is all gone, and it's just him in these streets. Just last year he was hit by a car, hence the wheelchair. He asks me about where I'm from and how I like it here. Standard conversation.
People in the street start staring at me. I see a guy literally walk forward for 30 seconds while keeping his head towards me. I guess it's not everyday you see a young Asian guy pushing around an old black guy in a wheelchair.
We start talking about music and he seemed to like the oldies, so I told him about how I love Nat King Cole. A few minutes later and we're bellowing out Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" on 30th Street.
I ask him if he wants a new shirt, and he says yes, so I bring him to Goodwill and find a Clippers t-shirt. As I'm waiting in line, I notice the Spanish mother behind me looks at him in disapproval. He leaves a puddle underneath his wheelchair as he leaves.
Kevin tells me he's hungry so I wheel him into KFC and buy him the cheapest thing I can find with the highest calorie count. I get him some food and some nearby people tell me I'm doing a good thing. It feels awkward for some reason. I'd "done my part" as a civilian, so I wished him farewell as I had a meeting to attend to.
But then he asks for another time, "can you push me back home?".
I don't want to sound mean, but I had already given this guy an hour of my time, some new clothes, some food, and now he wants to ask for another favor from me?
I say I can't and he seems irked and turns the other way. I tell him that I hope he gets better from this day on. I skate away and that's that. I'll never know if he was telling the truth about anything but I'll give him benefit of the doubt. I just know by the end of this experience, that I never want to be in his position. It just makes me all the more thankful for my family and friends who continue to support me.