12.05.2013

security

backlit main-room window, glass mesh

I came home on a wet Sunday afternoon after visiting friends to find a homeless man in a pulled-down knit hat and dirty brown coat sitting hunched over on his side, passed out in the building entryway. He never stirred when I moved past, put my key in the lock. I thought about calling the manager but figured the guy was drunk and harmless. Homeless people curl up in many doorways downtown in their thick sleeping bags, on their cardboard, especially in front of churches. But this was the first at my doorstep. We're having record lows in Portland this week—in the teens.

Then last night, I found out my neighbor came home the other day to a young homeless man passed out on our floor outside the elevator. She tried calling the manager, who didn't answer, and then the cops. What's next? I'll come home to a man sleeping outside my apartment door? Let me in. It's cold.

At a freeway exit I pass every night on the way home, transitioning from carpool to MAX, I see an old woman walking up and down at the stoplight, her sign saying she's in her 80's and needs help. She wears a head scarf over her white hair and layer upon layer of clothing, bundled up ten times her size, a plastic bottle of water and a wheeled white shopping cart stashed at the corner, tucked under the overpass guardrail, her job every night to beg from commuters on their way home who take pity on a poor old woman out in the dark, in the cold. Is this the future? Is this the best we can do?

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