Having a little free time today, kamoranakrre ventured down to the Old Courthouse at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. They've got a Victorian Christmas theme going, and that means a picture of the day.
Walking out of the eastern doors of the courthouse, I stopped to snap a photo or two of that large metal thing. While pointing my camera skyward I was approached by a nice young man who mistook me for a visitor to our fair city. He said that it's cold and he had just lost his job, had just lost his home, and had on top of that just lost his ID, but that, if he could just get five bucks for some White Castle, it would make his whole day. Having a little more free time, I offered to walk down 4th St. with him and buy him some White Castle.
We get within a block of the White Castle and he starts to say that, although some White Castle would be great, what he'd really like is a room for the night. He knows of place in East St. Louis where he can get a room for $10, if he could just have that instead. Much to his disappointment, I only had five dollars with me. But it would be really great if I could just help him get across the river--though the shelters here won't take him he knows a place on the east side that already promised they would if he could just get there. ...At this point, I'm wondering if he's heard of the Eads Bridge (which I walked across to take this picture), but fine. I'll get him a Metro ticket across the river--after all, he's at the least been very interesting company for the better part of an hour.
We start walking back to the north and cut over to Broadway. During the course of this walk he starts telling me about God and how he's sure that He has a plan for his life, and that, with His help (and mine), he's sure that he'll get through it. Apparently one day in the future once he gets back on his feet again I'll see a limousine stop on the street and he'll step out and, although I'll have long forgotten him, he'll shake my hand and take me out to dinner for helping him out today.
Eventually, we're passing a building (I don't recall which one) and he says he wants to show me something. There's a flight of stairs leading down to a service door or somesuch. At the bottom is some flattened cardboard boxes and a rolled up blanket, which he identifies as his current home. This, he says, is his proof that he has been truthful in his tales, and he hopes that it will put to rest any doubts I have about his many claims of the past hour.
We walk up farther to the Convention Center station, and start to go down the stairs for the eastbound train. There he acquired my money, and he and I parted ways. I have no idea how far east he made it on that day, for I by this time needed to return to the west (and I surely wasn't going to accompany him to any destinations in the once-fine city of East St. Louis, Illinois). For what it's worth, I didn't see him come back up the stairs in the moments I paused outside the station entrance to collect the recent events.
When I returned home I realized that it was he that should've been the picture of the day today. I'll always remember the afternoon I spent with the man, though I don't even now recall his name. Whether or not I actually had any impact in his life, I hope he does find a day on which he's the one approached by a nice young man on the street, rather than the other way around.