We don’t stop to wonder too much about the people around us, and if those people look “troubled” in any way, most people will try even harder not to see them in the first place. That is what had happened to Bob. He was owed quite a bit of money, but being able to claim it was a pathway of red tape and fees that he just couldn’t imagine ever being able to afford. One woman took the time to greet this homeless man, and the experience has stuck with her ever since…
About two weeks ago I saw a very sad, blue eyed, homeless man sitting outside my local coffee house. I said, “Hi. How are you doing today?”
He seemed shocked that I was talking to him. “Not very well,” he replied. He proceeded to tell me how he had been hit by a car while riding his bike. He had been in the hospital for a month and a rest home for another month. During that time the person that paid for his SSI checks died of a heart attack, and soon after, the homeless man’s wallet was stolen with all of his IDs. He had several checks waiting for him, but had no ID and therefore no access to his money.
I decided that if this was all true I’d like to help him get a copy of his birth certificate and social security card. I asked him to meet me at the Department of Vital Statistics at 11:00am on Monday and gave him the address on a piece of paper.
When I arrived at 10:50am the next morning I didn’t see him so I started filling out the paperwork. I explained to the receptionist, “I’m trying to help a homeless friend get his ID back.”
“Bob?” she inquired.
“Yes, Bob,” I responded, surprised that she knew his name.
“He was here at 9:30 and he just left,” she said. “But he told us you were coming.”
I payed the fee and walked out with Bob’s Birth Certificate. “God Bless you,” one of the woman said with a smile.
As I was driving home I saw Bob riding back on the old bike someone had given him. I pulled over and jumped out of my car shouting, “Bob! Bob! I got it!” He saw me and rode over. “I got it Bob! Look, here it is!”
He got tears in his eyes and told me I was his guardian angel.
A few days later I needed him to meet me at the Social Security Office. It took me a half hour to get there by car and I was certain he would not be waiting for me when I arrived. It would be at least two hours by bike. But there he was sitting on the sidewalk waiting for me!
We were in the Social Security Office for two hours. They discovered that Bob was listed in the system as “Deceased.”
“Dead?” he asked me with a stunned look on his face.
“Yeah. You don’t look too bad for a dead guy!” I chuckled.
We got everything straightened out and by the next week, he will receive his back pay which is a substantial sum. He would like to get a room, take a shower, go to the barber for a shave and haircut, get some clothes and a pair of shoes and a bike.
Yes, one person can make a difference in this world. And the interesting thing is that I am getting as much, if not more, from this experience, than Bob. I am deeply touched by Bob’s sensitivity, his gratitude, his stories, and his heart.
While it wasn’t too much of a burden for this woman to cover the costs of the new ID’s and certificates, it was monumental to the now-homeless man recovering from his injuries. The countless people who had passed him by had probably tossed judgment after judgment at him, never realizing that the real reason he was sitting on the sidewalk was nothing to condemn him for.
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