Living in Downtown Detroit I see the people society has forgotten. Many good people walk by the lost souls and do not see them. They may hear their words but do not listen.

These are the lost souls of any city. A man with one leg and no wheel chair or crutches who hops to the place he sits and begs at. There is a young man whose wheel chair is converted to a small bed because he has no legs and it is easier to lie on his stomach and move his wheels than to sit. There is the man with dirty dreadlocks in a wheel chair who goes to the back of a restaurant and gets left over food.

Most are homeless victims of heroin addiction. Because their loss was due to their own actions they can not get aid anymore.

Many homeless are there because they lost their jobs, someone close to them or in many cases were put out in the streets by the state when they should be in a mental institution.

The following is a composite of a homeless person. I know many like him in many ways.



Play audio version

A Day in the Life of a Homeless Person.

I am going to tell you about a day in the life of Joe Wino. Joe is homeless and a drunk. At one time he was a successful business man. He lost his family in an auto accident. After the accident he could not function. He started to drink to make the pain of his loss go away. He soon could not function at work and got fired. Then he lost his house and found himself in the streets.

During the warm parts of the year he sleeps on park benches, in alleys, in abandoned buildings, bus stop shelters or anywhere else he can lie down and go to sleep. During the winter if the shelters are full he tries to find something inside. It may not be heated he has some blankets to help keep the cold out of his body.

All of his belongings are in a plastic bag. In the morning he gets up and heads for the garbage cans and dumpsters. He looks for bottles that he can turn in for the deposit money, food or something to drink. He likes the dumpsters behind the restaurants because they sometimes have food, especially after meal times. If he is lucky he will not have to spend money on food. That gives him more for his liquid refreshment.

Joe is at the bus stop and when the bus stops he gets on and asks if anyone can help him with bus fare. If there is a sucker he gets the fare and jumps off. He can't do this too often because each driver remembers him and will eventually stop picking him up. When he gets enough for a cheap half pint he goes to the liquor store and buys the cheapest half pint he can find.

Some times someone will take him to get food. Then he sells it for more cheep booze. Many of those on the streets are drug addicts too. Some have lost a limb or two because of their addiction. You see them on crutches, in wheel chairs or hopping around on one leg. During the day they are downtown begging from the office workers and shoppers. If the aren't causing problems the police look the other way.

Joe's day is spent walking, begging, checking garbage and having an occasional nap. As night falls he starts to think about where he will sleep. He finds a place in an abandoned building. He has a bottle that he will drink until he passes out. If he is lucky he will wake up in the morning. Maybe if he is lucky he will not wake up in the morning. If it's cold he may freeze to death. He may be killed by another homeless person or some sick killer. He may die from the cheap booze.

How lucky he is depends on his living or if his death is painless. No one will miss him. No one will care. He is a lost and forgotten soul. Maybe is he is gone someone may wonder what happened to that bum that used to beg here. Maybe one person will miss him. I may miss him.

When we go if one person realizes we are gone then we were not totally lost.

© Copyright 2002 Lee W. Gaylord

Download Audio file

Home