A different perspective

Published 2:25 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Jan Penton Miller

We pulled up into the small parking lot of the walking track in the country looking forward to a nice if rather warmish walk. Many times we share the space with others out braving the heat. This particular track is a favorite because of the rolling hills and beautiful shade trees, which definitely make for a more pleasant experience since we don’t love to sweat.

As we rounded the curve and walked up the hill I moved into the grass to provide Missy’s little paws with a cooler spot since the area was sunny. A fellow was sitting at a picnic table, and I couldn’t help but notice that he had a bicycle, cooler, backpack, and other things that made me wonder if perhaps he was down on his luck.

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In the past few years, particularly, I have noticed many people in the area who appear to be homeless. I obviously didn’t know if he was in that category, but I did wonder about it. I spoke as I passed by, and he answered pleasantly. He seemed happy to make conversation, and we engaged in a brief one about Missy, my little dachshund.

With the ridiculously high inflation over the past few years I have often thought about those who don’t have a safety net of family and/or friends for whatever reason.

How do people make it if they lose their jobs or have other problems that affect their ability to work without a safety net?

I once thought of people on the streets with disdain wondering why they just didn’t get a job?

What losers!

Now I’m ashamed that my thoughts ever turned in that direction, but I’m only being honest. I think one of the things that gave me a better understanding was hiring a lady on the fringes of society to work in my yard. Eventually, she started

helping me in the house, too. Over many years she became my friend, and now I look at things with a different perspective. I have seen her make mistakes and go to jail several times, but I have also heard her story.

What does this have to do with anything you may think, but my point is that everyone has a story. The young man that I spoke to briefly the other day has one. The man who sits on the park bench outside of Ryan’s apartment in New Orleans has one too. I talked to this man named John and asked him if I could pray for him. He humbly asked for prayer for the weather.

When I enjoy my air conditioned home and grumble about the heat I try to remember that there are those sleeping outside for whatever reason. I have been back to the little park in the country each day since I spoke to the young man last Tuesday. His bike and cooler have not moved from the spot where he sat, but I haven’t seen him since then. I surely hope that he is somewhere safe.