Changes · Complaints · London

“This city life is dragging us down” – Stroke 9


I’ve rewritten this entry several times and it’s gone in a different direction each time…

I feel jaded and unappreciative of my life.  Yes, I’m away from home and most things familiar.  Yes, work can get mind numbingly stressful.  Yes, I’m putting on weight again (probably from too many hot chocolates).  Yes, I don’t have as much financial stability as I crave.  Yes, I’m going through a horrible phase of re-evaluating “friendships” from back home.  Yes, I’m internet-less til the end of the month.  But really?  Really?  I have that to complain about?  That’s IT?

It’s bitter cold out.  It’s the kind of cold that goes through your bones no matter how many layers you’ve got on.  The wind creeps into every crevice and pore and your fingers and toes go numb.  And for the last week, near the sandwich shop by work, there’s been a man living on the stoop of a storefront that’s under refurbishment.  He’s got his cardboard box laid down, and every time I’ve seen him, He’s been wrapped up in a sleeping bag on that cardboard, and he’s been asleep. Or dead.  I’m honestly not sure which.

All week I’ve passed him by on the way to and from lunch, looking away, trying not to cry.  No one should have to live like that.  It’s entirely too cold. Today, I finally couldn’t stand it any longer.  I got my lunch and a hot coffee and as I passed him yet again, asleep as ever, I knelt down and left him the coffee.  He didn’t wake up.  Other people must’ve felt the same as me, as there was also a bottle of water, a pot of yoghurt and a bit of bread in front of him as well.

Sitting here now, I’m thinking about all of the things I routinely complain about–and compared to that man, and so many others in this city–I’m lucky.  I have a job.  I have a flat.  I have a family who care both back home and here.  I have a few friends who are the best.  I may not have much, but I have too much when you look at others.  I can’t help but feel ashamed for having any complaints

I also feel ashamed for the way I ignore homeless people either asking for money or coffee or what-have-you.  I’m guilty of either putting on my iPod or putting my phone up to my ear and walking past as if I can’t hear/see them.  I feel wretched for it.  Back home, I would never have done that.  I would have at least had the “stones” to say “no”.  Or I would have given them change.  Whichever.  But here, I do what most of the population seems to do–I shut off and keep walking.

This city makes you hard.

Steph

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1.  Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

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2 thoughts on ““This city life is dragging us down” – Stroke 9

  1. So, I have a similar story to share with you…
    Kelly Carter recently got married. I was in the wedding, so I was in Louisville for a few days, participating in wedding activities.
    On NYE, we did dinner and bowling. Later that night, we made a White Castle run.
    As I sat down with everyone in the warm restaurant, with my tray of hot food, I noticed a man at a table in front of me. He was sitting so that we faced each other.
    He seemed normal, if not a bit “shabby”. (And Im not trying to say that in a snotty way) Toboggon, a couple shirts, a jacket, pants. Then, I looked at his feet. It was easily in the teens outside, and he had on sandals. His feet were various shades of purple, blue, and black, and very swollen. A terrible case of frost bite.
    He had no food. Just a worn looking magazine, an ink pen, and a portable CD player with his headphones in.
    It only took me a second to realize he must be homeless and had come inside the restaurant to warm up.
    I cant even begin to tell you how shitty I felt sitting there. It was NYE. I was warm and happy and enjoying a night with my friends. Meanwhile, he sat there, probably hungry, definately cold, and alone.
    I mentioned to everyone at the table. I wanted to give him money or buy him food. Mikes first reaction was no. Not because he is a jerk. But from all the time he was in DC, he became a little hardened and he also learned its impossible to help everyone.
    But he saw how much it bothered me all through the meal. And he told me if it meant that much to me, then I should help him.
    Then there was the great debate…what if I offended him? What if he wasnt homeless? Should I say something or just leave the money on the table and walk away? What if WC kicks him out because they think he solicited me for money?
    In the end, I kind of chickened out. I had no idea how to approach him. My biggest concern was offending him. I didnt know what to do. We had put some money together and there was $10.
    In the end, I gave the money to Bobby Carney and told him to give it to the man.
    He walked over, said “Happy New Year”, and laid the money on the table.
    “Seriously? Bless you” the man said to him.
    I cried my eyes out on the way home that night. And I felt like you do…all my complaints and problems seem so insignificant compared to someone like that man.
    God has blessed me in so many ways, and whenever possible, I need to pass that blessing on.
    You did a good thing Steph…the city hasnt hardened you too much! ;]

    PS Sorry this was sooo long!

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