Saturday, August 18, 2007

Richmond’s Invisibles

I am writing this from Emerald Isle, N.C. The weather is beautiful and the ocean is warm. We left Richmond this morning after sleeping at the Holiday Inn on North Boulevard. We had to stay there because our power was still out from Thursday night’s storms. Some day I will find out how it is that our house and the one directly across the alley are the only ones that lose power when the lightening strikes and the strong winds blow. So while most of my neighbors were enjoying a normal Thursday night and Friday, we had to throw out the spoiling food in our refrigerator and find a cool spot to spend Friday night.

Before we checked out of the hotel this morning, I had to drive back home to pick up a few things we had forgotten to pack for our beach trip. As I drove south on Boulevard there were scores of people, mostly women, running. As I passed the Greyhound depot, I noticed a person sleeping on the ground, his head leaning against a light pole. As I started up the bridge over the railroad tracks, there was another person, of undeterminable gender, also sleeping on the sidewalk. I was struck by the contrast between these two homeless people and the many runners going both north and south on Boulevard.

When I returned from my brief trip to south of the James, there were even more people running along Boulevard. I noticed, that as they neared the spots where the homeless people were located, they continued their run as if the two were not even there. I got the feeling that to the runners these two human beings were merely part of the scenery, not people.

It is sad that two of our fellow citizens have reached such a low point in their lives that they have to live out on the street. It is shameful that we can go on with our lives all around them without even noticing that they exist.

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