Saturday, February 20, 2016

EXTRA: More homeless in Chicago?

A Chicago spring. Photo by Gregory Tejeda
I realize that homeless people begging for spare change is a part of the urban landscape, and the idea of someone destitute enough to beg juxtaposed with the wealth of the Loop isn’t at all odd.

Yet I couldn’t help but notice one woman who on Saturday chose a very prominent place to set up shop and request money from people – State and Madison.

YES, STATE STREET and Madison Street – that point from which Chicago’s street grid originates. The point from which it spreads in all directions (albeit the easternmost stretch is only a couple of blocks away before one runs into Lake Michigan).

I was in downtown Chicago Saturday afternoon, and couldn’t help but notice the many people seeking my change. Including one couple whose cardboard sign billed them as a father and daughter both in need of money for a meal.

Yet something about the woman at State and Madison, with her sign and her plastic bag containing her possessions and using the signpost to lean up against while she hoped for some change just somehow seemed wrong.

While some people on Saturday were all obsessed with whether or not Hillary Clinton could keep her campaign wishes alive (apparently, she did), I somehow suspect there are others to whom it literally won’t matter who wins the primary and general election to be held later this year.

THEY ALREADY HAVE sunk to the bottom, and who knows if they’ll ever be able to climb back up in life.

Before you say that’s not of your concern, keep in mind that our society as a whole isn’t any stronger than its weakest link.

This woman reminded me of one I encountered about a month ago – when I was in the Loop to meet up with some old friends for lunch at the Berghoff restaurant. When she hit me up for money for food, I would have felt like a complete dirtbag if I had walked right on by to eat well.

I wound up giving her a $10 bill, and still remember the glee she expressed because that would be enough money to get her a pizza. I haven’t seen that woman since, but I hope she enjoyed that bit of mozzarella with sauce.

AS FOR MY encounter on Saturday, I couldn’t help but reach into my pocket for spare change. She seemed pleased with the roughly $1.50 I tossed into her can before snapping the above photograph.

An image of Chicago I wish I could say was a rare one, or one I wouldn’t see often enough in the future!


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