It’s was awesome meeting Charles this afternoon and I’m looking forward to getting to know him better.
Today I rode out to the time trial loop to get in a quick, high intensity 25 mile workout since I was short on time. As I approached the east to west turn I saw this homeless man camped out as he always is on the grass strip. I’ve seen him a million times but never thought to stop and say hello or offer him anything that I had with me to help him out a bit.
Early this morning I read a very cool story that my friend posted about this war-photographer friend of his. The story was kinda the same as the one I’m telling.. We both saw a homeless man camped out in the same spot day after day and one day, decided to talk to them. In the photographer’s story while talking to the homeless man, he found out that he was at one time a war photographer as well, working for Getty images in the Balkans. The man didn’t really go into how he wound up homeless, but did mention that everyone in his life died off in a matter of a few years. (His wife of 12 years to cancer I think, all his friends etc.) It was an interesting and thought provoking story.
After I read that photographer’s story this morning, it got me thinking a little differently about how I looked at some things, (plus, earlier I had been thinking about the up coming Thanksgiving holiday and how grateful I am for all that I have).
So on my last lap and got off my bike and walked over to the homeless man’s camp site. I said, “Hi.. my name is Markus.. I’m out here all time going around in circles” and handed him the $10 bill I always have stashed in a water bottle with my tube and tire irons. I told him to have a nice holiday meal and that the next time I head out that way that I would bring him some more useful stuff to help make life a bit easier.
The homeless man said, “I’m Charles, thanks a lot, I really appreciate that. I watch you guys riding wearing all your fancy uniforms all the time!” Then Charles started asking me about my tri bike which I must admit made me feel guilty that I was riding this $3,000 Cervelo and he was sleeping outside on a grass strip at night. To be honest I’m kind of still processing that.
My Morning Enlightenment:
Like most people, I think, (I’m being totally honest here) when I see a homeless person I don’t often go out of my way to make eye contact with them or to say a simple hello and smile. We almost treat them like Lepers for some reason. (I understand many homeless people unfortunately suffer with mental illness, but a lot of them are just everyday people that just had a few bad breaks, it’s easy to quickly see the difference I think. It took no time to realize that Charles was intelligent, he spoke well, had a good sense of humor, was organized and had a beautiful electric warm smile.)
I feel I learned a valuable life lesson today and for that I am grateful.