That’s Me You’re Talking About

I don’t stand out in a crowd. On the bus I’m just another bored passenger trying to get somewhere. At the grocery store I get the usual food – bread and meat and potatoes – what we all buy. In nice weather I ride my bicycle; in the winter I slog through the snow like everyone else.

Sometimes I’ll hang out with you. I’ll join in the conversation, talk about the news or weather or some celebrity. Until the talk turns to the forsaken: the mentally ill, the homeless, the addict. Then it’s no longer fun for me. That’s me you’re talking about.

You say such hurtful things: we should pull ourselves together; “just say no” to drugs; get a job. We could do it if we really wanted to. We’re just weak, lazy, worthless parasites.

I listen in silence. I don’t belong here. You so easily sneer and laugh at who I am. You’d be shocked to learn that I was homeless; that I’m mentally ill and an addict. I don’t look the part. I look like a regular guy. But here I am, one of your worthless parasites, sitting right next to you – and you never even knew.

I could tell you how it really is. I could explain why we don’t get our act together, get off the streets. Would you listen? The truth would be an unwelcome intruder; I don’t have strength to speak it tonight. I slink off, defeated, leaving you to laugh at the forsaken. You don’t know it, but that’s me you’re talking about.

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