The beggar on the street corner has afforded my family so many lessons. We now understand why detectives always interview the street people. One day I walked into the apartment building with a male friend. As Gavin my husband exited the subway stairs Diane our beggar from the corner was waiting there to tell Gavin that I had entered our building with “another man”. She also told Gavin not worry as the guy was fatter than he was.
I always joke that while people argue which city has the most expensive real estate New Yorkers have the extra bonus of the corner beggar even when you just paid 1 million dollars for a one bedroom apartment. Diane has been hanging out on our corner since we arrived in NY. She has watched my family grow. My children know Diane and run to greet her. We have taught them that every person is worthy of respect and compassion. We have long discussions explaining to them why someone lives on the street. In turn, Dianne has shown her appreciation by bring garbage bags full of fluffy toys after each birth of my children. The doorman always expresses dismay, but I am happy that to us Dianne is not just a nameless person. Last winter when my son was just 6 he and Gavin walked past the Diane on our street corner. Gavin always gives her a dollar. One day he gave her $10. Meron asked why so much and Gavin explained that on freezing days she pays a super in the neighborhood to let her sleep in the basement. Meron then said ”Abba next time don’t give her money – she can come sleep in my bed” then he was deep in thought and said but don’t tell Imma. Gavin assumed that he thought I would say she is dirty etc. He said “Imma will tell everyone how proud she is of me and Abba its nothing to be proud of its just what Jews should do”
My children will grow up knowing that people on the street cannot not just be overlooked like shadows on the wall.