It had felt like just a normal Wednesday when I stepped off the train to head to work in New York City at Next Step Realty this summer. I had been late to work the past two days due to train complications and was reprimanded heavily by my boss so it was very important I got to work early this day. The sun was shining and I was immersed in the city’s usual hustle and bustle atmosphere rushing from Penn Station to get to my office on time. Since returning home from my time abroad this past spring semester in Barcelona, I had heard talk from my other high school friends about how a boy I graduated high school with was now homeless living on the streets of New York. No one had officially seen him so it was more of just a rumor than anything else and never really consumed much of my thoughts, until this day.
As I was walking down 8th Avenue trying to get to my office on time, I saw a scrawny boy in raggedy clothes with a chopping cart next to him holding a sign. I had thought he looked familiar but was too consumed with my own distractions this morning to think anything of it but as I approached him I realized who this homeless person was and immediately developed a large pit in my stomach. This was a boy I used to sit at the lunch table with, share notes as well as laughs with in class. Here I was walking to my fancy office job while he sat on the street starving begging for money. It was a surreal feeling and I immediately developed tears in my eyes but I knew I only had ten minutes to get to work and my future working at this office was on the line. I walked by this boy as if I didn’t see him and I am unsure if he saw me do this or if he was not looking at the time but it has bothered me ever since.
I wish I had stopped and sat with him and talked to him about things and let him know that I cared and wanted to help him instead of being selfish and thinking only about myself at the time. The constant memory of briskly walking by him without even making eye contact has haunted me for two months and I am disappointed in myself for allowing the important words I wanted to say to this boy disappear to never be heard. Maybe he would not even have wanted me to talk to him but I know it would have been the right thing to do and that I could have at least given him spare change instead of feeling to awkward to have any reaction at all.