As a new Live a Great Story Ambassador, I'm participating in our weekly challenges. I am posting them because I feel that all anyone really needs is to know is that they aren't alone. Sometimes that's enough.
Challenge #1: "TODAY I LIVE" give an example of why you LIVE today
Why I live a great story today?
I don't know why I live a great story. The first instinct I have is to ask if I even live a great story?
I live to tell people stories. I live to entertain people and make them laugh. I live to stand in one specific position, in a certain way, and capture someone in a way that they feel they are really seen.
But do I actually live a great story? Really?
I'm not currently working as a journalist in a news capacity. I spent the past 6 years working to get myself into a new career and I'm not doing it right now. Does that mean that I'm not living a great story?
I keep putting out all of this good in order to combat all of the bad that I see so often.
I only had $14 in my pocket the other day and I went to a chain restaurant that I won't mention (because it's not the restaurants fault the workers acted this way and getting those employees in trouble will only perpetuate how they acted in the first place). As I was in line, a man walked in the restaurant that was clearly homeless.
People around me in line murmured to themselves and made jokes to each other on his behalf. It made me sick to my stomach.
I continued on, ordered and received my food. I watched as the homeless man got up to the counter and the clerks became so disgusted that they removed themselves from the counter.
The man was standing there, hungry, and no one would even let him order his food.
Why was that necessary to make him feel that way? I feel like if it were me in his situation, I would already know. And there would be nothing I could do to change the situation. Because I was hungry, and the only money I had needed to feed me.
A managerly-dressed employee (dressed differently from the rest of the crew) eventually came to the counter and took the mans order.
I felt powerless because I had no way to help him in that moment. I am doing this thing right now where I carry small amounts of cash and not my cards in order to better budget and save money (my goal was to save a secret small amount and take my wife on vacation for her birthday, but we'll probably end up moving that week) so I didn't have any way to help him out in that moment. I also had to get to River because she had been alone for 6 hours at that point.
It's so cold in Florida right now that my wife wears a winter parka when she takes River outside at night. A WINTER PARKA. Granted, she's been a Floridian since she was a baby and I'm biased because I grew up in the frozen tundras that consume Upstate New York winters.
But it's still cold.
I got in my car and planned to go back and give him a care package. We had leftover hurricane survival supplies that we still hadn't unpacked from our kit, along with multiple blankets. I didn't think they would be missed at home.
Picked up the horse-dog and she hopped into the backseat and we were off to head back to the restaurant. I didn't see him so I decided to drive around the area for a little while to see if I could find him somewhere else.
I took a break after driving around to bring River to a dog park for a little while. It was within walking distance to the restaurant so I had hoped that maybe he made his way there or would pass it eventually.
He never did. And I never was able to find him. River loves the car so we drove around for another hour and a half. As I eventually pointed my car in the direction of home I felt like a failure. I should have been able to do more for him in the original moment. I should have had my card so I could have bought him a meal or two.
I've thought about volunteering at a homeless shelter but there are so many people that are either unwelcome or not allowed at homeless shelters.
I can remember covering stories about people arrested for loitering outside a homeless shelter because they were homeless, staying at the shelter during the evening, and had nowhere to go during the daytime. The video I would have to edit was just a mugshot of a downtrodden individual while an anchor read over the details of his or her arrest.
There are also times when homeless people are targeted by law enforcement because they are homeless. This could be in "an effort to clean up the streets" or just because there is a quota, we'll never know the motivations of other people. If you're into reading legal briefs, check out “Forced into Breaking the Law” The Criminalization of Homelessness in Connecticut is a document produced by Yale Law School's Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic.
You see, I figure if people can understand what it's like to be homeless and how the current coping mechanisms aren't even a band-aid to fix a bigger problem, they're actually making it a much worse issue... I figure if I can get people to understand that, then maybe I will be actually living a great story.
So how do we stop the cycle? Let's make a plan and do something about this! Leave a comment below or contact me!