Ring, Ring

Posted: December 22, 2007 in Compassion, Discrimination, Homelessness, Misconceptions, Stereotypes

Yesterday morning after I published my post I discovered that I’d lost my cell phone. Then came the mad rush to try and figure out where I had seen it last, when was the last time I had used it and then doing all of the back tracking trying to find the thing.

To many a non-homeless person it might seem strange that someone who is homeless even has a cell phone. Some non-homeless people even think that for a homeless person to have a cell phone is frivolous because they feel that the homeless person should be spending money on something more important – like food or a place to live. But all that type of thinking is based on misconceptions of what homelessness is.  

Early this year I had been sitting at the transit center waiting to transfer from one bus route to another and I was speaking to my significant other who had called me to tell me that she thought she needed to go into the hospital because she was experiencing acute pains in her lower right side.

After telling her that I would meet her at the hospital and hanging up one lady, who had seem my other half and I numerous times at the transit center and knew that we were homeless, said angrily to me that if I didn’t spend my money on things like cell phones maybe I could afford a place to live and wouldn’t be homeless.

I couldn’t follow her logic. It was obvious to me that this lady had misconceptions of what homelessness is all about and what types of people become homeless.

The fact of the matter is that with the amount we spend on our cell phones per month we’d be lucky if we’d be able to rent the door on a closet, let alone an entire apartment.

Almost all of the homeless I know who have cell phones are on a prepaid service. And, they use those phones for more than calling friends and spreading gossip. They use those phones for things like keeping in touch with their families – and even (oh, my goodness!) getting call backs on job applications.

One of the biggest obstacles that any homeless person faces is the stigma that surrounds homelessness. It creates prejudices – all of which is based on misconceptions and misunderstanding what homelessness truly is.

Homeless means: without home.

Several weeks ago I when I wrote "Return To Sender" it was in response to a comment that had been left pointing out that there were two types of homeless: the "worthy" homeless and the "worthless" homeless.

Regardless of which "camp" any one homeless person belongs to, the truth is that there is simply no way of knowing unless a person sets aside their preconceived ideas of what "type" of person can and/or does become homeless – and makes the time to interact with that person.

It’s just too easy an excuse to say that we don’t have the time. I think that part of the problem is that if we were to make the time, we might find out that all of the homeless are not winos and bums – that quite a large number of the homeless are just like the rest of us. And, once we discover that we’ll have to come to the admission that we’ve been wrong all along about what homelessness is all about and who can become afflicted by it.

Of course, once we admit that we were wrong about the causes and cures for homelessness, then we’ll have to admit that we’ve been guilty of not doing anything to make it right – and heaven forbid that we might have to admit that we were wrong and that we haven’t been doing the right thing.

It may be just too much for our own egos to take. That’s why it’s just far easier to turn a blind eye to all of it. And by clinging to our misconceptions we can pretend that every homeless person is "worthless."

But, if we continue to cling to our misconceptions simply so that we don’t have to face the truth about ourselves, aren’t we lessening our own worth as well?


Since I could never find my cell phone I had to buy another one. Had to go through the entire song and dance with the wireless company people to get the number put onto the phone – and since it’s holiday shopping season, you can well imagine how much of my day was spent just trying to get re-connected.

Now, this morning, I’m sitting here in McDonald’s waiting for the wireless store to open up. Yesterday evening while I was trying to make a call, the phone I had just bought earlier in the day decided that it was taking the holidays off and for some reason "locked" up.

I tried calling the 1-800 customer service number but they were closed – and with this being the weekend… well, you know the routine. So, I figure I’ll head over to the wireless store as soon as they open to see what they can do to help.

And – hopefully half to today won’t be devoted to trying to get "re-re-reconnected."

Maybe I can give Santa a call and he’ll put in a good word for me…

I wonder if Santa has a 1-800 number?

With my cell phone out of commission right now I can’t afford a long distance call.


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