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One Minute in the Shoes of a Homeless Person

“Go apply for a freakin’ job!” Isn’t that what everyone thinks when they see a homeless person begging on the street?

For the next minute, imagine you are homeless, have no supportive family and very little money to your name…

You moved to Seattle with the promise of a full-time job, only when you arrived the job ended up being part-time and paid less and you were unable to make enough money to secure consistent housing. You quit your job to find full-time work.

You walk to the nearest fast food restaurant and while filling out the job application, you have no choice but to leave the address section blank. Thinking it’s not that big of a deal you turn it into the manager who immediately notices and asks where you live.

“Well I’m kind of in-between places now”, you stutter out.

The expression on the manager’s face expresses concern and disapproval. They say, “thanks we’ll get back to you.”

This happens at the next three places you apply. They think “the homeless have a reputation of being lazy, so who wants to take that chance and hire one?”

Person fills out job application (Photo Credit: United Way)

It’s beginning to get dark, time to look for a shelter downtown to crash at. You quickly find one and there’s already a long line, despite not opening for another forty-five minutes. Time is passing by ridiculously slow. You eavesdrop on a couple of guys in line talking about backup shelter options in case this one hits capacity.

“Sorry folks, we’re officially full” a man shouts out to everyone left on the cold sidewalk, as he lets the last person in the door.

The guys in line take off on their bikes before you have time to ask where they’re going. With 4% battery left on your phone, the anxiety kicks in. You Google the next closest shelter, and luckily you make it to one just in time.

The next few days are a blur as you embrace the December heavy rain, apply for jobs, reach out to friends for help and rush to make it in time to be accepted into the shelters.  Your clothes are dirty from a person driving their car through a puddle and splashing you. You are mentally and physically drained and have never felt this alone before.

Time is up, it’s been a minute! Snap back to reality, the nightmare is over.

Now think about how you felt while experiencing that nightmare. Did you feel alone? Ashamed? Humiliated? Panicked? Judged? Worthless? Those are just some of the emotions that homeless people feel and have to deal with on a daily basis.

Next time you come across a homeless person remember how you felt for that minute when you put yourself in their shoes. Remind yourself how truly blessed and fortunate you are. Remember you never know what that homeless person’s story is, what circumstances lead them there, and how hard they might be fighting for a better life.

YP Impact is a budding community of young professionals with an interest in giving back to the community we live, work and play in. If you’re interested in joining the community or just hearing more, visit this page and sign up to follow along.  


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