More recently, I've gotten to know these two homeless Vietnam vets, who make the rounds by our local QFC (that's a supermarket, for those not from the area; used to be independent, got bought by Kroger, but they kept the QFC name and look/layout for brand loyalty). I used to give them a bit of change, but lately when I spot them while shopping, I'll ask if I can pick up anything inside for them. Sometimes it's just 'a package of tissues' or 'a cup of yogurt,' but usually they'll ask for something like a cold deli sandwich or whatever. I know the one guy likes a turkey sandwich on rye and a bottle of water, the other likes a roast beef on french with a Sobé green tea. It's easy, it doesn't cost me much, and it means a lot more to them than just some change hurriedly dropped in a hand or cup.
So as I was picking up a roast beef and Sobé for the one guy tonight while shopping, I started to think about this. People view homelessness as a stigma, and in some cases it /is/ due to people just being lazy (or drug addicts, or whatever). These two vets, though, have injuries which actually make it hard to work (one has a really bad knee, the other's got something seriously wrong with his arm), and so they never quite can get their lives back on track easily. People walk past homeless folks so often, make excuses, tell themselves that 'well, I'd give them the money but they'd just spend it on booze.' I've seen it happen. Heck, when I stop to talk to one of the Vets, I've seen people glare at me as if they think I'm bad for buying them a bit of food or giving them a friendly word or two.
And it seems like in times past, when a person was down on their luck, that's just the sort of thing those around them would do; you didn't expect praise or anything else, it was just part of being there for others. Doing the right thing, as it were. Somehow, modern society seems to have pulled away from that; it's the exception rather than the expectation, if that makes any sense. I suppose modern society has really pushed the 'everything for me' as opposed to 'everything for the community' mindset; some folks want power, fame, riches, acclaim, whatever, while others just want... well, a sandwich and a Sobé.
There wasn't really a point to this post, just a bit of rambling thought.