Authors, Entrepreneurs, and other Creative Individuals Pursuing Their Dreams
Only now, it makes a difference. I was walking into an aisle at CVS Pharmacy to pick up more dope, as I do a few times every month. Cancer’s no damned fun, and getting old isn’t exactly a burst of glee, either. A woman was almost out of the aisle as I approached, but she saw me coming.
She moved to her right and turned sideways to give me more room.
Nothing unusual about that. It’s been happening for most of my life, beginning when I was a teenager. At age fifteen I was six-two, 195, and I had what’s called “an attitude”. If you got in my way, no matter where we might be or who you were, there was a pretty decent shot at you getting your ass kicked. Or made to step around me … involuntarily.
When I matured a little, (it was very little for many years), I ceased being so obstinate, but I’ve never given ground easily. I believe it’s because I was taught from a very early age I’m as good a person as anyone out there. I’ve never stopped believing it.
Or acting that way.
Things changed, however, when I was demoted. January 17th, 2005, I became homeless. I was removed from the ranks of being human in the eyes of most, relegated to that lower rung designated for those with no place to live. Of course, I also lost any right to expect people to respect me. After all, I was “one of those creatures”.
The snag was the fact I didn’t buy-in on the idea. I still felt I was as good a person as any I might meet and did my best to project that attitude. I was almost the same size, albeit I did lose weight. My height stayed the same, obviously, although I’ll confess I was inclined to stoop a bit more, a standard trait among the homeless. My drastically reduced dietary plan cut my weight to 195, something I hadn’t seen since I was 20 years old.
When I fought in the semipro ring as a heavyweight, 1968 and 1969, I was down to 192 and would’ve needed surgery to lose any additional weight. Yet, being reduced in rank as I was, people automatically assigned me a lesser spot in the pecking order. The fact I wouldn’t accept it created the snag mentioned above.
I refused to become a lesser being and wouldn’t accept the appellation given me. It was only my inner strength that fueled my exit from that particular spot in hell May 29th, 2009, allowing me to emerge from being a ragamuffin attached to the scheme of life. I made it out and, as soon as I did, people began stepping out of my way again. While I was still living homeless, I had to stand my ground and almost walk into oncoming pedestrian traffic to keep them from walking right into me. You see, I was expected to step aside, the same way black people had to do for so many years in the southern states.
Except, I never stepped aside. I made them do it.
The homeless people you see on the streets, on most occasions, no longer have that inner strength I carried. They need someone’s help, and you can be that someone. The next time you encounter one of us, how about being human enough to treat him that way? How about you being the one to step to the side and offer him a little dignity?
I’m just sayin’.
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