Just experienced something that shook me to the core and I can't explain why but it did as I'm known to the people that know me for being a semi life hardened kind of guy . I've seen homeless people before many times in my life, but never a couple with a child. Most of the time in San Francisco it's easy to walk by as you can tell they're drug addicts or just plain scammers with signs at intersections. This time was different. Much different. Life Changing Different.
On my way to the San Bruno Post Office Just outside of San Francisco to mail off some eBay boxes I saw this couple just sitting in the corner of the lot, not begging or panhandling but just looking over their belongings as a 3-4 year old boy came running around the corner right into me falling on the floor.
The mother came over and apologized and I noticed how dirty she was and could tell she had been on the streets for at least a couple of weeks. She looked to be mid twenties. In a typical mother fashion she pulled him along telling him to watch out and be careful.
The whole time I was in line at the Post Office I really wasn't there mentally as I was trying to find any other logical explanation other than a 4 year old being a homeless kid. I just couldn't comprehend it.
On the way out I made a beeline straight to my car in a hurry looking down at the parking lot the whole way out. As I backed out I couldn't help it, I threw it back into park and walked over to them.
Found out the guy was a 27 year old former combat Marine that had served four tours and had been out 2 years. He had lost his job a few months ago working at a warehouse. He jokingly said, but was absolutely factual when he stated that "Unemployment insurance makes you a well funded homeless person in Cali". Neither one had any family that could or would help.
He's right, $700 a month really won't do a whole lot for you in California. He said he tried to re-enlist but the Marines aren't exactly hiring right now and are actually pushing people out. He wasn't a poser as any of you Vets know it's easy to spot. You can just tell.
When I tried to give them the last $10.00 in my pocket he wouldn't take it but said if I wanted to help him out I could walk with him inside the Safeway so he could get his kid some juice. Every time he goes in there the managers run him out as his family had camped out behind the store a few times. He said he guessed a homeless family was bad for business as he said he never once did anything wrong in there except use the restroom too many times he guessed.
I took them down to Safeway and went inside with him. He paid for the juice and few groceries with a Wells Fargo debit card so I know he wasn't lying about the source of a small income. Apparently he was indeed known to the crew at Safeway as the cashier told him he better hurry before he was spotted in there. I told her I was with him and she just smiled.
Getting back to the car the little boy was asleep. He woke them up and got their stroller out of the car with their back packs. He extended his hand and said thanks Sir, I appreciate the kindness and if you know of anyone looking for a hard worker let me know.
I told him I lived not far away and my wife and I wouldn't mind if they cleaned up and took a hot shower. He declined and explained if your clean on the streets you're a target as other homeless can sense when you have two cents more than them. Apparently you're target also if you appear homeless at Safeway too.
Feeling totally helpless to help them I said "What are you going to do son"
I'm not ashamed to admit my eyes teared up when he said "Improvise, Overcome and Adapt Sir, Semper Fi"
I just stood there frozen in disbelief, anger and sadness as I watched them cross the street and fade into San Bruno National Cemetery. I'll never forget this as long as I live. This definitely isn't the same United States of America I grew up in. What in the hell has happened to this country?