During dinner we ended up talking about homelessness and I started telling him how I often find myself talking to homeless people that I pass by every day. I told him that I talk to them because I feel like they are my neighbors and I think it is good to talk to your neighbors!
It was an interesting conversation for being a first conversation with someone. He told me that he feels very uncomfortable talking to homeless people. They make him feel insecure and he always feels like they are trying to get something from him.
I looked at him and thought how odd it was that it makes me feel very different when I talk to homeless people. I feel like it is a simple act that affirms us as human beings and even though sometimes there are people who try to take advantage of us, often there are people who just want someone to talk to.
Obviously, there are people that I'm afraid to talk to and there are people that I cannot talk to because they might take advantage of me but, those are decisions that are made on a daily/individual basis. I don't just ignore people automatically because they are homeless.
Anyway, the thing is that as we were talking I told my new friend about these homeless people that I walk by everyday and that I asked them their names so that I could at least say good morning and say their name. I told him that yesterday a homeless man that I always walk by asked me as I was walking by why I never stopped to chat with him. I slowed down, I apologized and told him that I'd come early today so that I would have some time to chat with him.
So, anyway... this morning I stopped by and asked his name and learned a couple things about him. He told me that he ended up on the streets because he has Korsakoff's syndrome where he forgets everything every couple of days. He was nice and didn't ask me for anything, he just told me his story. So, after chatting with him I walked down through the park that I always walk through and said "Good morning" to Joe, who I always say good morning to and then, when I took three steps past Joe...
...someone was walking next to me and he said, "that was weird" and it was my friend from last night! I looked at him in disbelief. It was weird because he caught me in the very act of doing the very thing that we'd talked about the night before when we'd met. We sort of talked awkwardly and walked to our office buildings. It was so random! I wonder if my new friend and I will run into each other all the time now.