This section will be dedicated to articles previously written in the “Beat of the Street” Newspaper. This Newspaper is dedicated to serving the homeless and otherwise disenfranchised community in and around Hartford Connecticut. I have been a proud member of the “Beat of the Street” team for over two years and my column “Barb’d Wire” has become a staple. I hope you enjoy the articles, comments will be appreciated. I will be providing a link to the paper and to the amazing and genuinely caring folks at the Charter Oak Community Center as soon as I can. This was last months article.
Barb’d wire- http://www.charteroakcenter.org/
The Best Dollars I Ever Spent
It’s a new year! Myself and everyone else who contributes to the creation of this paper would like to extend our best wishes to you, our faithful readers, and your families for the coming year. May it be fruitful and memorable. On a more personal note, I have decided to write my first “Barb’d Wire” column of the year about a true story. This story involves myself and a homeless man from out of state, who we, that is those who knew him, like to call- Rob.
The reason we liked to call him Rob, is because that is what he liked to call himself. Those of us who frequent soup kitchens generally prefer peace with our pasta, and therefore tend to avoid the inclination towards senseless debate. We might, however, find ourselves in a deep conversation about politics or philosophy, but never, and I mean never, would dive into the deep waters of a strangers personal background. Rob was such a stranger. Which didn’t mean he was any stranger than the rest of us…just that he was new to the area.
I still remember the first time I met him at Center St. Church. He carried a large backpack, because at the time he was sleeping outdoors, and he ate like a man who was truly hungry. Our first conversation may have had something to do with trading my small candybar for his salad. We both got a righteous deal. Shortly after that he felt comfortable enough to ask me if I could “spare some change?” Due to the fact that I spent many years struggling with my own demon’s, I told him to just be completely honest and explain what it was he was trying to accomplish. While it may be true one should never assume everyone asking for change is an addict, it is equally true, that a large percentage of people who do ask for money are doing so for that reason. I gave him two dollars.
After that chance meeting, almost everytime I saw Rob he was feeling pretty lousy and I would do whatever small thing I could to help him out. He needed to go to a rehab, and we talked about it, but until he was ready, things just continued. He hated asking me for money, so sometimes he would just borrow it, and in those instances, he always found a way to pay me back; If not when he said, I would always get a phone call and an explanation. Now I know there are many people out there who would not want to give someone money for drugs, but I’m quite sure those people have probably never experienced the absolute and total misery associated with opiate withdrawals. I will say this, whenever I gave him money, I never expected it back.
One day Rob was gone. When I talked to some people who knew him they told me his mother had passed away and he went back to Ohio, where he was from. After some time had passed I began recieving phone calls telling me how he was doing. Some good, some not so much so. Then a few months later his father also passed away, and Rob found himself in a new situation. He now had a decent car to drive, a nice ranch to live in, and a few bucks as well. This could be the end of the story, but it’s not.
You see, Rob remembered how it felt to have nothing, to live day to day, to have to rely on the kindness of strangers…yes, he did not forget. So a few days before New Years eve. he went down to the local store and started buying peoples groceries when they came to the checkout. He spent over three thousand dollars that day, before he was asked to leave. He said “he just wanted to pay it forward.” I also recieved a letter with a crisp One Hundred dollar bill in it, which I never expected.
If anyone would like to read more on his story they can google the Sharon Herald and the title of the article is “Man’s Generous Intentions Backfire.” He has also been interviewed on a syndicated radio show with Johny Bandmeyer, and the T.V. news WKBD in Younstown, Ohio.
I am not the only person who helped Rob while he was in Hartford, but still I can’t help but think that in some way I made a small contribution to the overall good will of people helping each other without restrictions or judgement. If there is a moral to this story, then there it is. If you want to help, then just help…leave the expectations for their parents.