reply to post by SpartanKingLeonidas
You frequently write a fine OP or post SKL. From one stranger to another, I hope you find your feet and the economy bucks up enough to give you
what you want in life. The same goes for anyone else, I guess, which brings me neatly on to the subject at hand...
In 2001, I spent some time 'slumming it' with a few homeless guys in Liverpool. My life was taking a crash-dive (split up with long-term gf and a
dozen other things), I felt an affinity and enjoyed that time much as anyone else would enjoy being a tourist. It was nihilism and self-destruction
supported by knowing there was a home to return to. I could lie and say I was following in the great footsteps of Studs Terkel or George Orwell. Truth
is, I was looking to crash and burn and have no regrets.
It was eye-opening in some ways and a very dull life in many more. There was a guy called Bob who I'd gotten to know from '98 onwards, given him
shoes, clothes and food. Over four years, I charted his descent as 'the life' took its toll and he lost his health. By 2002, young heroin and crack
dealers were using him as a carrier. In the time I knew him, he never drank or took drugs. His life on the street was a simple outcome of losing his
job, missing a mortgage payment and falling through the net.
The guys I spent time with got drunk all day and I joined them. They hustled and dashed about the streets of Liverpool city centre faster than anyone
else. They scored crack and heroin and spent any cash they raised on drink or drugs. They fell out with each other and fought. Given a chance, they'd
rip each other off. It seemed to me there was a congruence, a symbiosis between what put them on the streets and what made them the way they were.
Whereas Bob might have felt a loss of dignity, his morality never left him. You could see his health and morale unravelling under all the hardships.
On the other hand, the others dove head-first into criminality and ran through each day in the muffled haze of needles, tin foil and strong alcohol.
All causes and effects and all of them just people with parents and childhoods that never saw this coming...
'The life' is hard and makes men get tough or die. Not a pretty place and no single generic stereotype to be found out there. There's no 'romance
of the road' out there, no noble gentlemen.
What I've found is that before people conjure up an opinion on the homeless, they should look carefully and think twice. A lot of homeless are there
as evidence that life's not fair. It can be anyone and it can happen to anyone who doesn't have the support of friends and family. Hell, even with
all that, for some it's just not enough.
Next time a drunken teenager puts a match to a homeless drunk, or kicks through the jawbone of a doorway tramp, they're signalling their own lack of
dignity. Instead of regarding these homeless guys as human detritus/waste, it's they who are surplus to the needs of society. It strikes me that
we're discussing the outliers of society. Whether homeless or a person that gets kicks from beating the homeless...they are anomalous in the greater
[An outlying observation, or outlier, is one that appears to deviate markedly from other members of the sample in which it occurs.]