Homeless Man

It was in the fall of 1989 and I was living in New York City.   Back then I felt New York was unsafe and that a violent crime could happen anywhere in the city at any given moment. I remember someone had told me a homeless person shot a woman who refused to give him some money and I think it was on the news. During that year it was common to be harassed on the streets by homeless people and I was fearful of them.

My girlfriend and I lived on 116th and Amsterdam, which like many neighborhoods in Manhattan back then, wasn’t the safest, so we also lived with a certain level of fear. My girlfriend was a graduate student in Columbia University and I worked part-time for their sociology department as an administrative assistant. I was spending some months in New York city, wondering what to do with my life, whether I should finish my undergraduate studies there or return to Madison, Wisconsin, where I had been a student for two years.

So one night my girlfriend and I were in Midtown somewhere, on our way back home, and as we walked, a homeless man got on our way and asked us for money. He blocked our path so we stepped to one side to avoid him but he wouldn’t let us get by him. We then quickly darted to his other side but he blocked us again.  I started to become desperate and my fear escalated thinking he might be carrying a concealed weapon. I hurried across the street walking as fast as I could pulling my girlfriend behind me by the hand but the man persistently stayed right in front of us, blocking our path. I became very frightened. Just as I started to feel completely powerless, and that this situation would inevitably become a tragedy, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an old man dashed between the homeless man and us, saying something out loud that I don’t remember right now, but this action saved us. The homeless man left and we were able to go home unharmed.

selective focus back view photo of old man in black jacket standing

Photo by V O Y T A H on Pexels.com

What the old man did was a surprise to me and whenever I have thought of what happened that day I realize the old man purposely tried to help us when he saw we were in despair. Obviously maybe nothing would have happened to us because perhaps the homeless man was just a harmless bully. But whatever the outcome would have been, it is clear that a small force can divert a much larger force, like a small tap in the right place on a man’s foot can cause him to trip and fall.

Copyright © 2012 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

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One Response to “Homeless Man”

  1. Victor Says:

    This reminds me of a story that happened long time ago in Madrid. A young guy was walking home late at night when out of nowhere somebody appeared in front of him with a knife. He hopelessly just stood there without been able to react. Then just as he the man was asking him for money a gentleman on the other side of the street starting calling out at him, “Pedro, come over, I’m here waiting, come on, we gotta go!” The mugger understood that his victim wasn’t alone and he stepped back just enough for the young guy to cross the street. When he did the gentleman told him “just keep on walking and don’t look back.” The young guy’s name wasn’t Pedro nor did he ever learn the name of the gentleman. But as you rightly state a small force can indeed divert a much larger one.

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