Walking through the park this p.m. (anycity, anystate), I noticed this youth lying on the cold, damp concrete, apparently snoozing. What attracted my attention most was the black hoodie he was wearing. It was emblazoned with the Jamaican name and flag.
His lips told his tale. It was like he had badly put on crusty white lip-gloss. A sign. I asked him, for want of a better question if he was all right. No, he was hungry he said, in an accent less Jamaican than black American … he hadn’t eaten for some time. And he was feeling and fighting sickness coming on. Perhaps the sickness of malnourishment.
All I could give him, without him soliciting me, was a paltry $2.00. That was practically all I had except sympathy and sorrow for him, and sickness and outrage at this society.
His mother was from Jamaica, Kingston he told me. So I already knew his familiar story. And he didn’t know how long he had been living on the streets. It had been that long.
His name was Joe, but that name came out too fast, so I knew better. But this was not an interrogation, and this was not Joe the Plumber. The one made famous by our political candidates. This Joe was not concerned about being additionally taxed because in the far-off future, he might make $250,000 annually. Food, followed by shelter were his immediate concerns.
The Joes of this country are many. But they are not on candidate PaCain’s minds. They never will, except when some legislation comes across his desk ask what to do with the human litter… like Joe. And with his economic plans and advisers like Phil Gramm, there will be many more joes.
The Joe I spoke with, had a human face. But it is likely that he will be nothing more than a digit in one statistics… homelessness.
Could he have been a crack-head? Probably. It’s hard not to be on something when the pain, hardship, frustration and loneliness of the street are your daily companions.
So, when you go out to vote and the lines are long and you feel like leaving, or when one of your friends say that they can’t be bothered because…. Please remember Joe and tell them. Joe was 19 years old… but he can’t vote. Please vote for him.