Don’t mind me, it’s just my allergies acting up.

“Will work for food.”

“Homeless, hungry.”

“What would Jesus do?”

“[insert-war-here] vet.”

Etc., etc., etc. They are everywhere here on The Planet Ann Arbor. Somebody’s dad or brother. Somebody’s baby. They’re at all the freeway exits. I pass them every day. In my nice, safe, warm, reliable (knock on wood) motor vee-hickle. Not a fancy vee-hickle or a clean vee-hickle or a brand-spanking new vee-hickle. But still. I always feel a little stab of guilt but then the light turns and I drive on and by the next traffic light I am a trillion miles away, muttering under my breath yelling at some nincompoop driver cutting in front of me or whatever. After all, what can I do? I don’t have any work to hand out. I could hand them money but I’m just one little person and I don’t have enough money to save them all. I don’t have the answer to this problem. My little blonde pea-brain can’t even figure out all the questions.

This morning, the sign read “Homeless, hungry. Vietnam vet. Will work for food.” He was standing in the median on South State. I was one lane away, over in the right lane, stopped at a light, poised to take off and pick my spot to merge into the left lane, the one next to the median, which was where I would need to be when I got to Ellsworth. I didn’t have any work for the guy but if I had been one lane to the left, I’d’ve had a really hard time not handing him the $20 bill I’d just snagged out of the National City ATM.

He looked almost exactly like my dad.

4 Responses to “Don’t mind me, it’s just my allergies acting up.”

  1. Kathy Farnell Says:

    Those people at the exits used to make me feel sorry for them. Then I saw a story on the news about how many of those people snag several hundred dollars per day. Start to notice things like how new and clean and free of holes their clothes are. Maybe the person is wearing a new hat. I noticed little things like that after I saw the story on T.V. They followed one of those homeless men “home” and found out that he was not homeless at all but making a fairly nice living by begging. Yes I know the guy has a sign that says will work for food but most people can’t give him a job so they throw a few bucks to him hoping he will buy food. He probably buys some food and then has a few drinks while he is watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs on his big screen. So, even though I know that many people do need help, I think that many of those “exit people” are just hoping to have someone take pity on them. Don’t feel guilty. You work hard for a living and I really believe that anyone who wants work can find it.

  2. jane Says:

    I drive past many of the same people that Anne does — the guy at the Jackson Rd. exit most evenings. The guy in the median of State St. each morning. (I’ll have to look at him to see the Jack resemblance – I usually try to avoid eye contact.) And last weekend I had a new one – a woman asked me for money in Kroger to pay for her food. I said no. It was hard though – I nearly started talking about the homeless shelter and verious food programs. I used to be asked on a daily basis when I worked downtown and walked to work.

    allergies — good one.

  3. isa Says:

    on the other hand, our new neighborhood bum introduced himself to us last night (gerald) and let us know that he “keeps an eye on our house.” he has been friends with the landlady for years (he quoted her name, i won’t), and seems protective of her. he also grew up in the neighborhood and was born at the hospital down the street. didn’t ask us for anything, just wanted to make sure we knew who he was. honestly, i think that there are definite positives to being on a friendly basis with the neighborhood characters… of course, i am in a neighborhood that’s urban in a different way from ann arbor.

  4. Kathy Farnell Says:

    Gerald sounds cool. At least he isn’t hanging out at the entrance or exit near the expressway. I am just not sure about those people. I wonder if they are “working” when it rains…