My husband and I were returning home from a lovely evening out when we were confronted with a situation that begged the question, “What should we do?”
A man was sleeping on the train, stretched out over several seats, his pants down around his thighs exposing his backside. When he woke up he began to ask for money from the surrounding passengers who were trying not to notice his bare bottom.
One young lady in particular had seated herself near him. He began to reach out and touch her. The horrified look on her face, probably mirrored my own and she finally got up and moved when he wouldn’t stop. I didn’t want to say anything for fear of a confrontation and I know my husband didn’t either. Yet …
He began to sing in-between asking for 10 cents from those around him. He asked my husband & I and we both said we didn’t have anything which was a lie. My husband would have been willing to give him the change he had in his pocket, but he didn’t have any. I wasn’t about to pull out my wallet in front of him, though I was willing to give him whatever singles I had.
My husband and I got off the train, but this young man dominated our conversation. We joked about the refrain he kept singing over and over, but the conversation soon turned to, “What should we have done?” Should we have called the police? He was exposed. I don’t think he meant any harm toward the young girl. We believed mental illness played a roll in his behavior. There are just so many questions.
I decided that from now on, I would put a few singles in my pocket so I could give something. It’s probably only to assuage my own guilt, but there are times when I feel I have to do something.
Several days later at morning Mass, the readings in Proverbs 3:27-34 glared at me from my Magnificat:
“Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him. Say not to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give,' when you can give at once."
In the priest’s homily that morning he spoke about our perspective of what we have and that we should recognize our blessings and share them.
That sealed the deal for me. That young man on the bus had so little and he showed me how much I have. I’m ashamed that I didn’t help him.
What would you have done?