Friday, October 7, 2011

Homeless in St. Louis

I frequently write about the beauty of downtown, the skyscrapers lined with incredible architectural features. Unfortunately, at ground level, some of the sights are not so exhilirating.

The pre-dawn hours in downtown St. Louis are when you are most likely to smell them. The odor of urine permeates the air outside the parking garages where many go to relieve themselves. Occasionally, this odor is masked by bleach that some poor worker was tasked with applying.

In the pre-dawn hours, you are most likely to see them -- in their entirety. They are sprawled on street corners, laying beneath overhangs, tucked into doorways, lining several feet of sidewalk. They are the homeless. They are innumerable.

Most of them have luggage now, not something I remember seeing in my youth. I frequently see them as they pack up for the day, stuffing blankets or sleeping bags into plastic bags, lashing the contents to a rolling suitcase or duffel. For the early commuters like me, this is regular morning sight.

But, every once in a while, something takes me aback. That happened this morning, when, from across the street, I spied this scene.

I couldn't help myself; I pulled out the camera. It had to be captured and I had to share it.

Of course, not 50 yards away from this scene, people were in a queue to buy $5 coffees. As I snapped a few photos, I watched a handful of people walk by without really taking in this scene. To me, it's a sad commentary on what this country has become ... and what it will continue to devolve to if we allow it.

If more people took the "There but for the grace of God" approach to the economy, I can't help but think how much greater a place we'd all call home. I've been feeling a little sorry for myself this week.

Now, I'm just ashamed.


Ty'sMommy said...

Thank you, NV. Sometimes we all need a reminder. We don't want one, its not pretty, but we need them. I've been feeling pretty low this week, too. I need to remember how lucky I am.

Karen Anne said...

There's something dreadfully wrong. In President Kennedy's time, we were going to fix poverty.

Why S? said...

Karen Anne's right. There was a time when we aspired to end poverty. Now we're told, by the very men who want to lead us, that if we're not rich it's our own fault.

HOW did we get here? Is it that question that is really our fault?

Karen Anne said...

I appreciate the Occupy people. I am too old to join them, but finally someone is in the streets.

Jayne said...

Amen, ladies! It's truly sad. NV, last time I was in St. Louis, we went to Coffee Cartel in the wee hours of the morning. Several homeless people were sitting at tables, sleeping. It pleased me that the staff at CC doesn't make them leave. I wonder if they give them food as well as shelter?

Jayne said...

I found this on Pinterest several days ago.
I haven't done the research to know if the percentages are in fact accurate, but it's certainly food for thought and a reminder that most of us are more fortunate than we think ourselves to be.