Do you ever catch yourself making sure your car doors are locked? You’re in a “bad” part of town, those guys looks sketchy, you want to be safe.
I’m all for caution, particularly when I’m thinking about the women in my life I love. I had an unexpected occurrence, though, where I got into a conversation with one of these men who you’d probably lock your door for.
His name was Tony. He first approached me as I was walking into a business in downtown Huntsville. He asked if I knew what time it was to start the conversation then proceeded to tell me a little about what he needed.
He was hungry, and he was trying to find a certain veterans organization in the area where he had a meeting to discuss getting an apartment and a job. We talked briefly before I had to run to my appointment.
Later in the day, and several miles away, I ran into Tony again. This time I was waiting on a client for several minutes, so he had more time to talk.
Tony was originally from Michigan. He was an Army veteran and had fallen on hard times. Those hard times began the year his wife and daughter both died.
“Everything is so spread out here in Huntsville. It makes getting to where I need to go pretty difficult,” he said. I looked down at his very worn out, brightly colored tennis shoes.
“Tony, I imagine there are a lot of things that are difficult about being out here on the street. What would you say is the hardest part?”
Tony waited for at least thirty seconds, you could see him thinking through what I’m sure are countless challenges, and then he looked up at me and said, “Most days it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”
With Tony’s appearance I’m sure this part of the story rarely comes out. I wonder what it feels like for your appearance, your lack of cleanliness, your geographical location to warrant someone looking the other way, locking their doors, changing route, ignoring you.
I can imagine hearing the subtle click of doors locking from outside of the car and Tony hearing it as one of the daily, small reminders that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m not saying to abandon caution but maybe to at least hold that stranger in your mind in a different light. The reality, we’re all only a few degrees of choices and circumstances away from their position.
I hope Tony finds hope, that the job he was talking about works out, that the apartment he mentioned is now his home, that he starts to not only see a light at the end of tunnel but one right where he’s at now.