To the homeless father who sat beside me on the late-night train,
This is my apology to you, and though it comes from the most sacred vessel of my heart, you will have no mechanism to read it. For this I am deeply sorry. You will leave the station each night unaware that someone cares. What a beautiful testament to all that must change.
The moment you read this; that will symbolize that the times have changed. Perhaps the saddest reality is that you may never. Winter is coming, and I know that rags will not be enough to keep you and your baby boy warm. There is so little I can do, and yet so much, but where do I even begin? Aside from the obvious donations and volunteering, writing this letter to you has the power to educate the public and put an end to stereotypes, because for every character of poor intention, there's one like you.
You'll have to forgive me, for I have never met one like you. In my experience with more questionable characters, I have been cat-called, followed, asked for my number and grotesquely stared at. Therefore, I neglect my warm, welcoming nature so as to avoid confrontation. But you were different. You did not confront me, you kindly asked to sit beside me. You asked not for my number, but for the name of the last station, and the answers I provided were not a fraction of what you required.
You needed a new coat, one that fit, with the strength to bear the cold. You needed medication for your newborn, who was clearly running a fever, and you needed somewhere other than the public train to be your safe-haven at 9:30 pm. I am so sorry that you are without these basic necessities, yet so humbled by what you have taught me. First impressions are not everything. Underneath that exterior is a devoted father, a compassionate soul and a HUMAN BEING. How, as a society, have we forgotten this? Probably because the fear of being encountered takes precedent over the concern that you won't make it through the night.
That is a problem, one that must be resolved immediately, and the first step is recognizing assumption for what it is. Yes, street smarts are essential, but so is action, for they are symbiotic necessities. Perhaps if we worked to better the streets, we would feel better walking them.
So to those of you sitting in comfy beds, with the resources to read this,
Help, please. Recognize that above all, human beings are just that. Before they had a panel of pavement, they had a place to call home. Donate, volunteer, provide. Make a difference, be the change. Do a little or do it all. Just do it, so that one day, when that same father leaves the station, having found a home, it will be because everyone cared.