the woman in the blue sleeping bag

Bright before me the signs implore me
To help the needy and show them the way
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it’s going to rain today
— the prophet randy newman

Some snapshots stay with you.

I’m walking from the parking lot to the newspaper. I’m nervous because it’s my first day working the wires and I have no idea what I’m doing. Like that’s ever stopped me. It’s a cold day and it’s been raining for hours, a gift from California. As I dodge the puddles I see her up ahead.

She’s barely shuffling, wrapped in a sleeping bag. The bag is soaked, rendering it useless. I hang back, dreading the inevitable encounter with the homeless. I pause and pretend to check my phone, but she’s still there.

I check my wallet. No cash. No coins in pocket. No food in backpack. I have nothing I can give her.

The women’s march in Phoenix will be tomorrow just a few blocks from here. A new president took over hours ago. The country is at a perilous crossroads. I’m guessing she doesn’t care.

She just knows it’s really cold and raining, her sleeping bag is soaked and it’s going to be getting dark soon.

As she continues her one-woman march, I pass her. Our eyes lock. She’s old and worn out. A dark tan and deep creases from too many years on the streets. Hollow cheeks, stringy hair, huge eyes. My heart breaks.

She doesn’t say anything. It’s the expression of a lost puppy. I wave and say I’m sorry. And I am so, so, so sorry. She just smiles and nods.

I go into my warm building and return to feeling sorry for myself for having too much work to do. I console myself with an icy diet coke and some peanut butter cups.

She continues down the sidewalk, a one-woman march toward her unfortunate demise.

“We are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People,” he said.

She doesn’t know what that means. She doesn’t want power. She just wants a cup of coffee. She’s going to die, and there’s not a goddamn thing I can do about it.

“Yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.”

God bless the woman in the blue sleeping bag.

Some snapshots stay with you …

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About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
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4 Responses to the woman in the blue sleeping bag

  1. tosuperstar says:

    My first 3 full months on the Boys Town National Hotline I handled 1,279 calls from hurting desperate souls, needing encouragement, help, someone to care, help find shelter, utility money, rent money, a reason to live. I feel like I have failed. A kind word just doesn’t seem to be enough. We have failed so many. I long for the answers. Our country and our government agencies are good at lip service, but not so good at solving the problems. Where are the churches, the civic groups, the ones with the highly paid CEO’s? Where are the neighbors? Family members? So many questions, so few answers.

  2. wanderwolf says:

    Powerful reflection.
    I wonder too, if the new PotUS had her in mind as part of the “forgotten”
    I’m think volunteering at a daytime shelter for a while was one of my better life choices. I wonder if there are any in your neighbourhood?

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