Once upon a time, I found myself on the streets of Denver, Colorado. Out of work, out of luck, out of money and out of my apartment, I was homeless.
My first breakfast in that new-to-me world was black coffee and three stale donuts. Lunch was two boiled hot-dogs and some coffee at the Holy Ghost Church. Dinner at "Jesus Saves" was some not completely cooked beans and ditto for the rice. The corn was cooked. The coffee was hot.
The people on the street were a varied lot comprised of a handful of general types with many being a mixture of several:
- The "losers," hurt and victimized--those who had lost jobs, wives, girlfriends, homes, not always through their own negligence.
- The vets--the Viet Nam veterans who had seen too much, done too much and hadn't yet adjusted to "the world."
- The ex-cons--the belligerent and suspicious tough guys who had yet to find work.
- The schizophrenics--some just talked to themselves. Others were paranoid and dangerous who could be trusted to be ready to "defend" themselves with any available weapon when there was no threat. Cleared out of the mental hospitals, they were on the streets, often without their "meds."
- The "illegals" / undocumented--the Mexican nationals who worked day labor jobs for the rip-off companies who profited heavily and paid them $5.00 an hour.
- The psychopaths / sociopaths who set the tone of the street were at the top of the heap--the pushy first ones to get the day labor jobs, the ones who cut into any line, the ones who insisted that they had done no wrong in any advantage which they seized, who were most likely to be the ones to take your gym bag and all of its precious contents if you fell asleep on a park bench. Additionally, they were the ones who volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission, aka, "Jesus Saves" for a real bed to sleep in and "cooked" the meals or who stole from you while you showered. Not having a friend to watch your stuff could cost you your stuff or an occasional shower. It was your choice to take the chance; they weren't at fault. They were just doing what psychopaths do, exercising their God-given rights to be greedy thieves and steal from you.
But, the street people weren't the only ones participating in the action on the street. There were the local police. Some of them apparently made extra money by seizing drivers' licenses and other I.D. to sell. Being homeless made many folks into easy targets.
Others drove the vans to pick up the drunks and take them to the drunk-tank, relieving them of whatever cash they had.
The guards at the shelter were fair and honest. I appreciated them.
There were other good people participating in the street peoples' lives. The Catholic Workers at the Soup Kitchen were the best of the good who treated us as valuable human beings and fed us nutritious and delicious--and they were delicious--dinners. Soup didn't come out of a can.
Ayn Rand, with her religion of greed, would not have respected the Catholic Workers. But, she would have loved the psychopaths.