When Mother Goose stepped out the front door of her warm and cozy home on Sunday morning, the frigid winter air made the insides of her nostrils tingle. From childhood, she always liked that sensation, and this unusually cold winter had provided lots of frozen side effects that only a goose could enjoy.
Glancing up the block, she spied a familiar figure shuffling along in the middle of the street. Bundled in several coats and hats, it was undoubtedly Lawrence Little. Had he been watching from a safe distance for her to emerge from the house? Without a watch, how would he know that it was almost time for Mother and Husband Goose to leave for church? Was it again “coincidence” or another miracle of timing?
“Good morning, Lawrence!” Mother Goose called out in a very hearty manner. “Would you like a ride to church?”
He nodded and smiled.
Mother Goose is always concerned about whether people have eaten their breakfast. “Did you eat breakfast?” she now asked Lawrence Little, the homeless man who just rode the “L” all night long and slept with one eye open to watch for bad guys who might hurt him or steal something from him.
“Yes, ma’am, I did. I had coffee and donuts this morning.”
Mother Goose smiled brightly into the darkly sad face of Lawrence Little. “Was it OK last night?” she wondered out loud.
Lawrence Little nodded. “I met this lady,” he said. “See, she told me that she’d let me stay at one of her apartments for five months and all I need to pay her is $40.”
“Wow,” I answered. “That sounds really good for you.”
He nodded and smiled.
Unfortunately, Mother Goose has heard this similar story from Lawrence Little before. He always needs just a little bit of cash and then he’ll have shelter from some kind lady somewhere. The names change, the addresses of the apartment buildings change and the dollar amount changes, but it’s still the same plot.
I invested in a lot of Lawrence Little last year…
And that is the dilemma that we face when we encounter men and women who are homeless. Is it right to give them money when they explain that they are “just this close to a breakthrough and if you could just help me just one more time”?
I couldn’t resist asking, “Lawrence, do you have any of that twenty left that I gave you last night for shoveling?”
“No, Ms Natalie, I had to spend it on the trains all night long and then breakfast this morning.”
That may be the case…
He told me that they don’t let you ride for just one fare all night long. But last time I checked you can transfer around on trains for a long time before a conductor will conduct you off the train platform, especially on a cold winter’s night. Anyway, not wanting to be a jaded suburban goose I didn’t push the situation any further.
Instead I told Lawrence about a place where he might be able to secure some decent transitional housing — Safe Haven. I looked up the address and the phone number on my smart phone while we drove to church in our warm comfortable goose mobile. I passed the piece of paper to Lawrence hoping that after church, he might jump back on that public transportation, arrive at the Safe Haven, check in and live happily ever after…
Seriously, Mother Goose?