Hello SOTGC community,
Lately I’ve been seeing a decent amount of homeless people as I drive back and forth between my accounts during the week. I’m not sure if it’s that there are suddenly more around, or if the nice weather we’ve had in San Diego has brought them out, or if it’s simply that I’m more aware of them than before.
I think we can all, sort of, tell which ones are most likely addicted to some kind of substance. So very rarely do I look at them and think “what circumstances happened in their life that led to this?” However, on occasion I will see one that looks like they probably just had one run of back luck over and over, and no one gave them a chance to set it right and to get back on track.
A few months ago I was running early in the morning through downtown San Diego, down to the convention center stairs to run them before cases that morning. On the way back I passed by one of the local churches that I guess feeds the homeless breakfast at a certain time in the morning. As I was running through the row of people lined up to get their morning meal I saw a young man (probably no older than 18) standing out of the crowd. He looked clean cut, didn’t appear to be “under the influence,” and if he hadn’t been standing in that line I would have assumed he was on his way to school. As I ran by them I looked at him directly and was going to smile (I’m not sure why but for some reason I felt the need to look him in the eye and offer a smile) and as I came closer…he looked away and then down at his feet. The look on his face still remains with me, months later, and not in a good way. He looked ashamed, as if he couldn’t look me in the face because of where he was and what he was waiting in line for.
As I ran by I felt such a wave of sadness that I almost started crying. Yes, I am a very emotional person and while I don’t cry that often, I do tear up if something touches me deeply. Then I felt anger. What happened to this young kid that forced him onto the streets? What happened in his life that led to him standing in front of a church hoping for a free meal, and when faced with a stranger who wishes to smile at him, he looks down in shame? I think some people would immediately say “oh well I’m SURE there is a reason he is there…maybe he was a bad kid and got kicked out of his home!” And there is a potential that they are right. But maybe there is a chance that he just ran into some bad luck, and hasn’t been able to pull himself out?
Perhaps the reason I’m noticing so many homeless people lately, and wondering how it is that they came about with their “lot in life” is because I need to be reminded that most people deserve second chances. Maybe I’m supposed to remember all the people who gave me second, third, and fourth chances and never gave up on the good they saw deep inside, no mater what I was doing or how I was behaving at the time.
So what do you think? When you see someone who is far less fortunate than you…what goes on in your head? Do you wonder how it was they got there and hope they can pull themselves out? Do you wonder if they’ll get to a point where they are ready and deserve a second chance? And will you be someone who will grant them that chance, if it’s you whom they come to…?
Marney Reid is a Marketing Program Manager for a global industry leader in medical device. She is also the Founder of Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling. She has nine years of sales experience in male dominated industries and is transcending the Glass Ceiling by using her authentic value proposition as a competitive advantage.