That Time When A Homeless Person Hugged Me

And I was ok with it

Zara Everly

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Photo by melih bakır on Unsplash

About a year and a half ago, I traveled to Manhattan from my home on Long Island to meet up with a girlfriend. After having a wonderful day together, I headed back to Penn Station to catch the train home.

First, I made a pit stop at the Long Island Railroad public restroom. Due to the pandemic, about half of the restroom was closed off. There was a line so I had to wait my turn.

As I waited, I heard someone asking other travelers for money. I turned to look and saw that she was an older homeless woman who looked pretty benign in my estimation.

A minute or so later, this same woman came up to me to let me know that a specific stall was actually available even though it looked closed. I gathered that she had spent more time in this bathroom than I did, so I walked over, and found she was correct. I thanked her and went in.

As I sat there doing my business, I could hear her asking other people for money.

Every single time that I am in Manhattan, someone will ask me for money. Like a true New Yorker, I typically look ahead and ignore so as to not engage. I don’t make it a regular habit to give money to those who ask. Partially because it just doesn’t seem to be a good idea to take one’s wallet out in a crowded area.

Moreover, I don’t give out money because I think of myself as not having too much of it myself.

I am the mother of four. I have mouths to feed and bills to pay. Like so many others during the pandemic, I was laid off by one of my jobs and while I was still working at another job, I found my hours drastically reduced. My income had gone down.

However, I have been fortunate in that I did benefit from unemployment assistance. I also found that not traveling to work almost every day had led to me not spending a lot of money: my gas consumption has gone down. That saved me money.

I had no idea how long it would be before I returned to work and so, I had been holding on to every penny I can.

Yet, as I sat there listening to this woman asking strangers for money, I realized what a load of bullshit this idea of my not having money is. I have been paying my bills.

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Zara Everly

Writing and research information professional. Bibliophile. Forever English major. Literary harlot.