To Judge a Man by His Belongings: A Homeless Account

Life, is not all that easy.

It can be going smooth as a midnight lake, then without warning, it turns to a swirling whirlpool that slowly drags you down. In other cases, the ground on which you stand on may give out, opening up a dark abyss in which you hit rock bottom immediately, leaving you with nothing but the clothes on your back to keep you safe through the days and nights.I’ve been in this situation quite a few times; some due to uncontrollable changes in circumstance, other times, silly teenage mistakes. I have been at the top, then plummeted to the bottom, to one of the lowest places you can be: homeless and helpless.

The one thing that remained the same each time I was forced out into the cold, was that feeling. That oh so familiar feeling, that the world is against you, and there’s no way out.

Throughout this blog article, I would like you to keep this idea, this feeling, in mind, and try to place yourself in those shoes.

We’ll start off with a theoretical situation. Some of you may have been here before, while others of you have never experienced this. With that, I hope you will never have to face anything like it, but let’s use a bit of imagination.

You wake up in the morning. It’s your third month on the streets, and you haven’t had any access to any kind of modern day accommodations. Your face is filthy, your clothes are crusty, and your feet are swollen in your torn up shoes. You do your best to rouse yourself from the uncomfortable position you awoke to, and mentally prepare yourself for the daily routine of finding food and water, and maybe that morning cigarette to boost the morale for a while.

Thoughts run through your head, with that little voice pushing you to try. “Maybe today will be better? Perhaps I’ll get that job I applied for? This could be the day I get that lucky break!”

As you walk, with a brand new bounce to your step and a smile for the masses, you start to notice more about the people around you. The expressions they make towards you. The way their body twitches nervously when you come near. The way their legs hasten, and sidestep massive gaps, all to avoid being anywhere near you.

By this point, you have already lost that bounce in your step, but you still smile, going about your daily business, trying to hold on to that last piece of hope for the newborn day. You fly a sign,”anything helps, God bless,” but to no avail. You decide to change your tactics, and head to the local grocery store in hopes that you may get a loaf of bread in reward for your efforts.

You walk around that parking lot, waiting for people to come out, hoping they may be able to, ” spare some change?” It’s a rather simple question, really. Most people see a penny and nickel, and think,”What am I going to use this for?” So it goes, that you continue your mission.

About fifteen minutes later, you’ve almost gotten enough coins for a loaf of bread!

“Seventy-eight cents,” you count. “Twenty-two more to go, and I’ll be set for the day!” It is this hopeful prospect, that drives you to the next man. You walk towards him, breath held in anticipation, ready to ask him with that kind smile of yours,”could you spare some change, sir?” That’s when it happens.


Now, this man was nowhere near as kind as I was in terms of vocabulary, but I’m sure you already knew that.

That was a crucial moment for you. It had started that morning, with the looks of disgust and the people avoiding you as though you were a rabid animal. That last bit of hope that was curled up on the sides of your lips, has now been shattered and vanished back into that hopeless feeling. The only thoughts remaining are,”what have I done to you? I AM trying to get a job. How can one be so cruel, to someone that they have never met…”That brings us to our main point. Are you one of these people? If so, perhaps you need to rethink a few things. Think about why it is, that you treat another human being like this.

When all it takes to bring someone down is a misplaced word, or a thoughtless, hateful comment, then why do so many of us judge without ever meeting a person? Why do we break down those, who are the most broken of all? Let’s replay that story, but in a different view. Let’s say, that when you had gotten up and were walking to your destination, you weren’t receiving any of that negativity from strangers. Maybe instead, someone gave you a nice,”go get ’em,” pat on the back, a friendly smile in response to yours, or even just a simple nod of the head. A small reminder that you are in fact, a human being. Perhaps that would have taken away some of the pain that you hold deep inside,and made that bounce in your step, just that much more bouncy.

What about that man in the parking lot? The one who ruined your day entirely, and made you feel as though you truly were worthless, and had no use in being alive in this world?

What could he have done?

At this point, he would have been kinder had he simply ignored you and walked away. Better yet, he could have simply said, ” I don’t have anything to spare, but I wish you luck, and hope you have a good day!”

The challenge that this was meant to bring to your attention, is to think before we speak. The response you have to someone, be it a question or a reaction you have towards their general appearance, can mean all the difference in the world. Be kind towards everyone you meet. You can leave the encounter with the satisfaction that, although you could have ruined someone’s day, you chose to treat them with the respect that every human needs, and deserves.


  • Dallas Lobdell

    Wow. You’re right. Convicting post, John. We should treat people like people.

    When asked for money on the street, I often say that I don’t give money away to strangers but I’ll happily trade them some of my money for a good story. I’ve met a lot of neat people that way — and heard some cool stories to boot!

    • Brandon Fisher

      What a wonderful trade.