A Day With A Homeless Person

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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If I could spend a day with one person that I never met, I'd spend it with a homeless person named Charlie who lives in New York City. I have never been homeless. I've always had a roof over my head and someplace warm to sleep with good food. I've always wondered what it would be like to be homeless and how I would survive. I think a day with Charlie would help me better understand him. He would teach me how to find food, teach me where to sleep, and how he views his situation.

We'd meet in a park on an autumn morning. The first thing he would teach me is how to find food. He rummaged through some garbage bags and finally found some bread and bagels. I watched as pigeons swarmed around him waiting for him to share with them. They pecked things out of his hands.

What was his was theirs I guess. He didn't eat until he was done feeding the pigeons. They were his friends, I suppose.

The next thing we talked about was where to sleep. He actually taught me a lot in this area. He told me that most homeless don't sleep in shelters. The reasons are many. First, you can't fall asleep with anything in your pockets because when you wake up you find that they came around and cut out the pockets. Next, they wake you up at 7am and you have to leave and you can't come back until 12pm or 1pm. Also, there are a lot of murderers and drug dealers in those shelters, so most homeless people would rather sleep on the streets than in the shelters.

He told me how he thought about his situation and about life. A lot of people have told...