Sunday, August 12, 2012
A homeless vet named Eugene....
August 11, 2012 ~ I have lived in Midway almost my entire life. We moved into a home mom and dad built on my 3rd birthday. For the past 33 years I have rode or drove past this site everyday and often times several times a day. This is the 121 exit for Midway and is also known as the Fayette exit. If you are traveling from Stadium exit towards Kansas City and take the Fayette (Midway) exit and look over to your left this is what I have seen for nearly 4-5 weeks.
This man has endured extreme temperatures with no shelter, no shade every single day for over a month. He does not bother anyone and really is the wrong place to be panhandling or looking for a ride. I have rarely ever seen him stand but rather sit upon his duffel bag and looking down at the ground. Upon many occasions I have seen him writing on a pad of paper or in a journal. He always made me wonder what his story was and not until yesterday did I find out.
I decided to stop, roll down my window and ask him a few questions. (I did give him $11.00 which was all the cash I had on me as he approached my window) I told him that for many weeks I have seen him sitting out here never bothering anyone and yet wondered why he was here. He said his name was Eugene and that he was a homeless Veteran. He had served in Vietnam and he was looking for work to try to get back home. I asked him where home was and he said San Diego, CA. He said that he tries not to be a bother to anyone and all of the homeless shelters are completely full since we have had such high temperatures and he had inquired about the Veterans Hospital and they had nothing either. He said that doesn't leave him much of a choice but to stay there which is probably the best place because we have the truck stop close by. I promised him that I would make a few phone calls and I would stop back by Monday or Tuesday at the latest. He was very kind, respectful and always looked me in the eyes while talking. You could tell that he truly was really trying not to be a bother and was determined to make it back home one day. He said that he found employment for about a week helping to mow lawns but as many of you know everything is burnt up and there isn't any yards to really be mowed. I told him I think things are going to get cooler which will be nice and he said "please don't say that, I'm ok with the warm weather ma'am" I realized that he didn't have a lot of blankets for cool nights. I had to ask one more question before pulling away.... I wanted to know what he was writing? He said that he writes stories about people he meets, poems, songs and things about life. I bet if you were to set and read some of these we would all realize that our life isn't as bad as we sometimes think it is.... that we are fortunate to have a roof over our head and food on the table where this man who has fought for our country has nothing. He did not smell of alcohol. Rather he was very weathered from being out in 105+ degree weather for the last 5-7 weeks all day long each and every day.
As I pulled away I couldn't help but think about him. I normally would never pull my car over to a total stranger like that however I wasn't scared. I wanted to know more about this man. This isn't the end of the story. This is just the beginning. I will post more when I talk to him again tomorrow or Tuesday. Until then, I don't promote stopping to hitchhikers, panhandlers, etc. but rather to just take a moment to think about others.... you don't know their story but rather often times just "assume" or judge others by their looks, color of their skin, or their disabilities.
I ask anyone that reads this that will be traveling through Midway and see his man sitting quietly at the exit to please give two honks of your horn to let him know you care. I told him as I was leaving that I have a blog and wanted to write about him. In return I would ask everyone that read this to give 2 little honks of their horn....No need to stop and give him anything.... just a little sign to let him know you care. Thanks!
Through My Eyes
By Brian Chenier
You don’t know me or what I’ve done
You don’t care where I’m from
So I have a question for you
Why do you judge me the way you do?
I wonder what it is you see
Every day as you pass by me
What’s on your mind, and in you head
Looking at me on my cardboard bed
All I have left in this world is here.
But all you see are the cans of beer
You try not to look or stare
But I see your eyes, I see the glare
The disgust I see it in your face
As if it’s me that’s a disgrace.
But if you knew what I’d done
That look might be a different one
You go to work all clean and shaved
On a street of gold that’s nicely paved
But you have sent me off to fight
Without a care for my future plight.
The drugs and beer, the homelessness
The disheveled look and the tiredness
None of that is a choice I’ve made
I was a soldier of the highest grade
You don’t see that, you don’t care
Why should you, life isn’t fair
I don’t want pity, especially yours
But spare a thought for those that fight your wars.