why are we afraid to interact with people?
we all know that pulling up to the light on hiawatha blvd where you get on 81 north, seeing a homeless person is inevitable. well i just raced my way to the light just in time for it to turn red. i was first in line and saw a homeless guy i’ve never seen before. he kinda looked like that meme of the guy on the history channel saying “aliens”. i immediately turned my radio off knowing i would have at least 1 minute before the light turned green. i looked at him with his unbuttoned shirt and his cardboard sign that read “nobody is perfect” and said “how’s it going, man?” and that’s all it took to remind him that he’s human too. why is that so hard for people to do? whether it’s a homeless person begging for that pocket change you don’t need or an elderly man sitting alone on a bench at the park or a mother at the grocery store battling with her kids to get them to quiet down so she can hear the feedback of her light taps on a watermelon to see if it’s at peak ripeness. this is where society falls short. i don’t know if it’s due to all the screens we have surrounding our lives. in our hands, in our pockets, on every wall in every direction you look. or maybe it’s this abnormal fear that the person whose ears are hearing your words is somehow going to transform into a monster and belittle you or even worse, offend you. or maybe it’s a fear of awkward situations. like we need a thoroughly thought out word track for how we want to steer the conversation because we are afraid of not having everything in our lives planned out for us. or just the sense of pride and selfishness that tells us we don’t need that human interaction. even if the other person would benefit from it as if we were pulling them out from underwater. we just can’t bring ourselves to do it.
this is how my conversation went, verbatim:
“how’s it going, man?” – me
“i’m trying to get to where you are, driving a bmw and what not” – aliens man
“oh trust me, you don’t want all of this. it desensitizes you. *slight pause as he didn’t know what to say* look, i just bought a 1995 chevy van that i’m going to be living in for the next few months”
“come join us man!” he said as he laughed and pointed to his 2 other friends sitting in the shade.
“maybe i’ll come visit you at some point!” i said with a laugh. even though i was dead serious.
“the world needs more people like you” he said with the biggest smile on his face. he approached the car with an outstretched arm looking for a handshake. i obviously obliged and looked him in the eyes.
“thank you very much, dude. i appreciate that greatly” the light turned green and i nodded as i let my clutch out. with the same huge smile on his face, he reached his hand into the air to say goodbye and yelled: “not all homeless people are bad!”.
“that’s right!” i yelled back. i couldn’t agree more. with that parting phrase. with his sign. he made my day, and i’m sure i made his.
how much effort did that take? none. how much harm was i in? zilch. how awkward was that? 0%.
how happy am i that i did that? extremely. would i do it again? absolutely. am i better than that guy just because i have my shit together at this point in life? fuck no.
i challenge you, before the day is over, go talk to a stranger that looks like they could use a pick-me-up. ask someone how they are, and actually mean it. listen to them. give them feedback. give them encouragement. it doesn’t take much, and we all have the capability to help someone. so just do it. if you don’t see anyone in person before the day is over then make a phone call. send a text. send an email. slide into a dm. i don’t care how you do it. just do it. help someone in some way or another. our communication is one of the things that makes us human, and allows us to be rulers of the world. it is perhaps our strongest tool. use it. for good. please.
for the record: i don’t care what this guy looked like. i’m not trying to make fun of his appearance in any way. i’m just simply giving you a visual so you could connect more with the story. that is all.