Sunday, March 20, 2011

"He's just a homeless bum"

Something has been preying on my mind for a week. Last week, a contingent from Jubilee Church, under the leadership of the Love Ottawa! team, was on the streets of downtown Ottawa encouraging people we met with a cup of hot soup, a pair of warm socks, a listening ear, and the gospel of Christ. In front of one of the missions I met a fellow whom I will call Ted. He is about 40 years old and hails from Kitchener. He worked for a large road construction firm. When his marriage went south, he took a transfer to Ottawa. Shortly after that he got an infection in his ankle, was admitted to a hospital, and was laid off since he could no longer do the work. When he was released, he no longer had a place to go and ended up on the street, and then at one of the missions.

As Ted tells it, earlier in the week, he had been walking down a street when some guy in a fancy car came roaring up out of a parking garage. Ted fell as he ran out of the way. He admits to yelling a few inappropriate words at the driver, who then stepped out of his car. A witness asked the driver (!), "Are you okay?" As Ted was picking himself up off the ground the driver said to the witness, "Oh, it's nothing. He's just a homeless bum."

Just a homeless bum. An articulate fellow who made some mistakes, who got sick, was laid off, and let out of the hospital on to the street. How many guys are there like Ted, a paycheque or two from living on the street?

As the saying goes, there, but for the grace of God, go I.