I made an assumption yesterday and I am ashamed.........
I was out for a run with some of my wonderful running friends yesterday morning. It was cold and icy, but felt great to be running and spending the morning with these wonderful ladies. We were nearing the end of an 8-mile loop; with a couple of my friends refueling and heading out for 8 more. We stopped under one of the bridges along the Willamette River as a couple of folks needed to use the porta-potties; this is an area where there are almost always homeless people milling around. That being said, I always feel safe and it is a heavily travelled area. My friends were going in to the porta-potties and one by one they kept coming right back out and moving to the next porta-potty - there wasn't any toilet paper :-)
I was standing aside and heard a couple of homeless people trying to get our attention; I totally and completed ignored them - I assumed they were either pan handling or heckling us. After my friends had checked all four porta-potties and found no toilet paper one of the homeless guys came over with a roll of toilet paper for my friends to use; his name was Allen.
He explained to us that the company who maintains the porta-potties for the city always leaves extra toilet paper with him for this exact reason. He had been trying to get our attention to help us, not hurt us.
We spent the next 10 minutes or so talking with him. It turns out he is a vendor for Street Roots which is a non-profit, grassroots newspaper; they assist people experiencing homelessness or poverty by creating income opportunities for them. The vendors purchase the paper from Street Roots for .25 and sell the papers for $1.00; making .75 cents per copy. I have walked past these vendors a hundred times and never bought a paper.
As we continued to talk with Allen we learned that the current issue featured a story about Dave Dahl from Dave's Killer Bread; I'm sure most of us have heard of Dave's bread - it is awesome. I had no idea of his story though. We wrapped up our chat with Allen, thanked him for his kindness and compassion, & finished up our run.
When I got back to the car I found a dollar and ran back to buy a paper from Allen; I think he was surprised to see me. I read the paper last night and was surprised about how much I enjoyed it. I intend to pick up a Street Roots each time I see a vendor now.
My horizons have been expanded and my faith in human beings has been restored. I will look at people differently now; thank you Allen!