The first man I saw was frantically working at his scratchcards, those state lottery tickets that people buy in hope, or despair. From the pile of the lottery tickets scattered around his feet, I concluded he was of the latter category. The pile of lottery tickets was surrounding him; like he was the sacrificial human being burned at the stake, with all those tickets standing in, as fire wood.
His hair was long, dark, with some little creeks of grey flowing, intertwined with the rest. His eyes were focused with that “mad professor stare”at his two remaining scratchcards. I estimated that there were at least thirty of those scratchcards, on the ground. When I saw his backpack, a remnant from the 1980’s, the beer can he had put next to him on the ground, a prejudiced image started to be projected onto the screen of my mind. He was probably a homeless person, or maybe just supported by the welfare system. I didn’t think much about it, only that I thought it was too bad that he must have spent a lot more than 50 US dollars, on those scratchcards.Perhaps his motto was “I make my own luck!”. I had an urge to tell him to find other ways than to spend his whole welfare check on these scratchcards. I can’t help it. It’s the social worker in me. But I held my tongue.
The second man I saw, was just passing me by on the street. He was slightly younger than the previous man, but still looked weary and worn out by life. His hair had an odd yellow color. Not blonde, but a warm yellow. The hair had formed into some sort of “spikes”, perhaps from not being washed so often, I thought, when I saw his face, red with a lot of red-white spots upon the skin. He had a 1970’s brown fake suede jacket. His eyes were a bit unfocused, I understood that he was “on something”, to escape this harsh winter’s day.
The third person I saw was a woman, about 25 years of age, dark clothes. She was stood with the back towards me, next to a store window. I walked along but stopped suddenly, when I heard her yell at her phone. The words that the person on the other end apparently needed to hear was: “Well, I am not the one who is the paedophile!!!”. I did not hear the rest of the conversation, and although I was curious, it felt best not to hear more about that. It sounded like an awful story behind that sentence. And in my work, I hear rather disturbing stories all day long, so I did not need more, on this day.
This was a neighborhood where I passed by frequently. I had never felt unsafe there. It wasn’t known for violence or anyting like that. The only thing was that a lot of people with low income resided there. In my mind I often thought of it as the end station for some persons. It seemed once they settled down in that neighborhood, there was not much hope left in their eyes. Except the frenzied hope of the man with the scratchcards.
As I walked home, I was once again suddenly struck with the feeling that I should feel grateful. And a moment after, I did feel it, genuinely. I had a roof over my head, I had food. I had hope.
I got to thinking about that it was now day 18 of No Contact- I asked myself: what am I feeling about that? Well. No one is constantly lying to me, no one is manipulating me, no one is cheating on me, no one is wasting my time. Now, this day, no one is making me feel such despair that I would want to move to the end station. For that, I thank the powers that may or may not exist out there, in the Milky Way and beyond.
I also send a prayer for the three people I met, that they may not be cold this evening, as the Russian unmerciful cold once again sinks its claws into our Northern night.