Some of us are old enough to remember the representations of the vagabonds that went off the grid and traveled the country riding the rails during the Great Depression. They were often romanticized in literature and in old films as being unfettered individuals. They always carried their worldly possessions in what is called a “bindle.”
Now I’ve seen a lot of people in my life, in many different states, that have dropped out of society for many different reasons. None of those reasons fit the romanticized version of the free-spirited hobo. In fact, I used to keep cash in my pocket when I commuted into the City just to do my little part to ease the struggle, maybe buy a person a meal when I could. I also used to volunteer at a soup kitchen in the Bronx, over by Bedford Park. Wasn’t much, but it was something. Most of the folks I met were the subterranian types that lived on the NYC subways or in its labrynthian tunnel system below the five boroughs. I still keep cash in my car to share with those folks I spot working the corners of NoCo while I’m out doing my errands, especially around the holidays.
Some of those I meet are the working poor, who do what they can to make ends meet, and still need a hand. You do what you can for each and say a prayer.
But in all of my 66 years I have never spotted what I would consider someone who represents my image of the free spirited vagabond, the quintessential “hobo.” And by that I mean one who carries a bindle over their shoulder. A bindle is like a witches broom, or a wizard’s wand. It is iconic to the character.
Yesterday, was a Big Foot moment.
To tell you the truth, I had one hell of a time grabbing this shot from my car. I spotted this person out of the corner of my eye and almost could not believe it. Luckily I always keep my iPhone charging on the console, so I grabbed it and shot. Got two photos.
Now I don’t want anyone to feel like I am diminishing this person’s despair or suffering, assuming he is. As I said, I have shared my last dollar with those I have met on the streets because I cannot imagine the hardship that such a life presents. I count my blessings and try to put a band-aid on the suffering, because I know I cannot fix this problem. But at least I can buy a person a meal and say a prayer.
But in this one moment, I saw the staff over the shoulder and the bag hanging behind him. I saw a Bindlestiff.
Now I hope that those of my fine, five readers that can, will do their part and make their contributions to those in society that can use a hand this Christmas season, and beyond.
Give them a few bucks, buy them a meal, engage them in a conversation. Take a moment to let them know that they mean something to someone, even if it’s only a complete stranger they will never see again. And don’t worry about what they do with the money you share. That’s not the point.
And as fascinated as I was at spotting this one Bindlestiff, I pray I never see another. I hope that the next person who considers picking up that stick and bag finds the help and resources necessary to prevent them from taking to the streets.
But in the mean time, I’ll keep some cash handy.
Well today is another Monday, so there is work to do.
But before that I will cuddle my kitty, do my rounds, and torture myself.
And count my blessings.
You fine, five readers do the same.
Make a difference in some stranger’s life.
And make today a great one.