Friday, Jan. 24, 2003 - 9:46 p.m.

I see them on the streets sometimes. And under bridges. And in parks. In cars in rest areas. And in trucks and vans in truck stops.

And they are talked about on CNN. And they are on the local news. And it seems like everyone is talking about them when it is cold outside. Or it is a holiday.

Some of them are not mentally ill. Some of them are not dangerous. Some of them are not lazy. Some of them are not being punished for some horrible crime they committed.

Some of them would be cleaner if they could take a bath. Some of them would be healthier if they could be. Some of them would not steal your things even if you left them sitting outside.

They have no real friends. The police do not like them or want them around. The gangstas and the wannabees see them as prey. The average citizen cannot even see them. They are invisible to many even though in plain sight.

And the news and people who are interviewed about them talk about the problem. And I think the problem they speak of is their own problem. A problem of misplaced guilt perhaps.

Some of them do have jobs. Some of them have more than one job.

And what is a "problem" for you, is just a matter of survival for someone else. They don't make schedules.

They don't plan meals. They don't plan their futures. They don't retire to a safe place in the evening. They don't look at scrapbooks and relive old memories.

No they look for a place to sleep. Or a little river to wash in. Or a place to fix a little food. But mostly they look for a place where they will be safe. From police. From robbers. From pranksters. And they don't think much about tomorrow. Because they are watching like a bird. So that an animal does not bring sudden death or injury to them.

So the next time you talk about the "problem". Just know this. Until about six months ago, I was one of them. And if you had ever told me I would be one of them, I would have laughed and thought you were kidding.

So I understand. I know about the "problem".

I don't mean to sound confrontational about this. Nevertheless, I say. If you have never been one of them, you don't understand. You might think you do. You are wrong. If you think you know the solution to this "problem", and that it is simply a matter of taking steps to not be one of them. Or if you think you could never be one of them. You are truly ignorant of this "problem"

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