I’ve been in Madison, WI a little over a month now and I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far. I live close to downtown and I get the opportunity to walk to work every day. Which means, I walk by our beautiful capitol every morning and every evening. Our capitol square is usually very busy with all walks of life and this also gives me the opportunity to people-watch as I enjoy my daily walks. I have the mindset that people are weird, amazing creatures and I will never fully understand how people think or what causes people to act the way they act sometimes.
I have a tendency to look around me as I walk. Actually, let me tell you a bit about me before I go into my story. I enjoy making eye-contact with people on my daily walk sometimes because this gives me a bit of socialization and preps me for my day. Some days I’ll go about my walks simply thinking and looking but not really making eye contact and some days I’ll say ‘Good Morning’ to everyone I see. It really depends on the day. This past week I had an instance of more than a simple ‘Hello’.
I have this particular homeless man who when I see him in the mornings he has always said, ‘Hi Beautiful’ to me. This starts my day off on a positive note and gives me an ego boost in the mornings. Earlier this week my ‘regular’ stopped me on my way home. He wanted to ask me a question. Of course I stopped and said, ‘yes’. He made a little small talk at first and then asked me if I could help him find a homeless shelter for the winter. This tugged at my heartstrings a bit because winters in the Midwest are nothing to sneeze at and I can’t even imagine not having a safe (and warm) place to sleep every night.
I work for a State Housing Authority and while I don’t have any connections to charities or shelters, I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to ask around to see if I could find some assistance for this young man. I gave him my business card and because I see him nearly every day, I said I would talk to him later in the week and share with him whatever information I could find.
Two days later I received a call at work. It was Kyle. He wanted to know if I had found out any information for him. I really didn’t have anything to give him yet because although I had been asking around for him, I didn’t have anything substantial. I let him know this and told him to give me a few more days. About two hours later I got a call from my receptionist letting me know that I had a visitor named Kyle and that I ‘would know who he was’.
I went to meet Kyle in our lobby, with red-flags dancing in my head. I had talked to him not two hours ago and let him know that I didn’t have any information for him, why was he here at my place of work?
I stayed in the lobby because it’s a public place and I didn’t want to take him back to my office since I work in a secure building. He had dressed up as best he could by wearing khaki’s, a jean shirt, and a tie. He even pulled his long hair into a bun.
After a quick hello Kyle asked me what he had come there to ask me. He wanted to ask me on a date. I was floored and completely rendered speechless for a few minutes. While he talked about a few other things my mind was racing, ‘how do I get myself out of this situation causing the least amount of damage?’
I quickly interrupted him and said that I couldn’t go on a date with him but I would still try to help him find shelter as best I could. Thankfully, our receptionist, the consummate professional that she is, overheard the overall conversation and quickly came to my rescue by printing out several pages for shelters and missions in the area and discreetly handed them to me as she passed by.
I then quickly ushered him out of the building and finally, caught my breath.
I’m not a scaredy-cat. In fact, there are times when I should be frightened but because of my height, my attitude, and the way I was brought up, I’m simply not scared. But I’ll be honest, I was a touch on the un-nerved side. I don’t think I knowingly put myself in scary situations, but this isn’t the first time where I’ve done something that I thought was the right thing and it turned out to be not so right (I still don’t necessarily think it was wrong).
So…the moral of my story is this: it doesn’t hurt to want to help people, but sometimes it is better to let the professionals handle it. I can always volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen rather than try to assist someone personally. I wish I could say ‘Lesson Learned’ but knowing me, an odd situation will present itself again and I’ll unwittingly make a decision I potentially may regret. But as long as I know I’m always trying to do the right thing, then I’m okay with those decisions too.