I always wanted to help a homeless person by doing something nice for them, like offer them a makeover that could land them a job and change their life. When I first moved home from college and I was waiting tables at Texas Roadhouse, I offered a homeless guy that I saw on the side of the road to come to work with me and have a free meal in my section. This was my chance, or so I thought.
“I want a ride to Wilkes-Barre,” he insisted.
“You mean you don’t want a free meal?” I asked.
“Don’t be a f — king prick, just give me a ride to Wilkes-Barre,” he yelled at me as I held up traffic to talk to him.
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even convince a homeless man to accept a free steak dinner. As I drove away, I thought about all the ‘Likes’ I could have gotten on Facebook had the homeless man not been a douchebag.
Last week, my moment to help a homeless person unexpectedly arose.
It was an hour before the taping of my online talk show, “The Millennials”, and tension was rising with my drummer. After an argument caused both my drummer and me to storm away, I decided to go to Northern Lights in Scranton to calm down. Following a tense phone conversation about continuing with the show, someone sitting next to me started a conversation.
“You have a show?” asked some young guy next to me. “I play the guitar and I’m looking for somewhere to play. Can I come on your show?”
I asked if he wanted to come by right then and there.
“I don’t own a guitar,” said the guy.
“You don’t own a guitar and you’re a guitar player?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m homeless,” he answered.
Once he explained that he was homeless because he was bipolar and not on his meds, most people would have been turned off by the dose of too much information. I decided he’d make a great guest for my show and invited him to come along. This was my moment, or so I thought.
While my friend drove all of us to the location of the filming, I started gagging at the smell of the homeless guy. I tried rolling down the windows, but the child lock was on.
“You get car sick, too?” the homeless man said.
To spare his feelings, I played it off as car sickness.
When it was time for the homeless man to sit down and share his story about being a homeless Millennial, he started rambling about being bipolar. Unable to believe I was even in this situation, I started laughing out loud at the homeless guy. Sorry, Mom and Dad.
I eventually composed myself, playing off my laughter as a weird cough.
As I listened to this young man share his story about not being able to afford medication to control his mental health issues, I was reminded of the reason I created a platform for today’s generation to have their voices heard in the first place. He had his voice heard when nobody would even give him a chance by giving him change to buy a cup of coffee. If I could help one person think twice about giving a homeless person change, that can last longer than a meal. Maybe that’s the difference I was meant to make. What difference are you meant to make?