/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
Getting out of the SUV I could smell urine everywhere with a pinesol odor trying to mask it. As my feet hit the watery asphalt I had a momentary thought that my hands were too small for this huge mess. These people needed more help than I could ever offer. Barely could I look around and meet the eyes of so many in need who passed me on the sidewalk. This was not the “homeless” problem I was used to. In my sprawling bedroom community suburb the “needy” people are rarely seen in my day to day living. Aside from the occasional “need help and work” sign, it is hard to discern where they even are.
Here in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, the homeless were everywhere and far outnumbered what I had envisioned. More noticeable were the persons who seemed to suffer some obvious mental problem beyond anything substance abuse. As I walked toward City Hall my nostrils were filled with the smells of unclean bodies and sewage intermingled with the occasional smoke from cannabis.
I had about a dozen cards in my pocket for food vouchers but I felt bad because the food wasn’t coming for another week. These people were hungry today. I made myself take mental notes. Today my notes were of the scents mostly. I want to remember that smell when I am sitting here in the comfort of my own home. I want to remember vividly how there are people sleeping on sidewalks where others have just urinated or worse. I want to remember these people get cold at night trying to find someplace to sleep.
When I go back next week I want to remember faces. I want to remember names. I want to remember people who were helped for more than an hour. I want to see them helped for a lifetime.