I take a train and a bus to get to work (don't worry, it only takes me about 25 minutes). The train is SILENT in the mornings and it really is lovely. It is odd when there is noise on said train and my fellow commuters don't take these random disruptions lightly. I, however, find the odd interruption entertaining. However, this morning's interruption, which came on the bus portion as we were cruising past restaurants, shops, and more restaurants, made me sad. As I was sitting listening to the quiet chatter on the bus, I heard two homeless men speaking to each other. They could not have been older than 30. As we passed a restaurant, homeless man #1 said, "Blllluuuueee. Blue. I think that is a waffle bar." (It's not. It's an Asian place)
Homeless man #2 said: "You sure that says Blue? I think it says SOUL, which makes more sense as a waffle bar."
The two let it drop and moved on. But I didn't. I couldn't. Because here is the thing: these two men cannot read. They are homeless, under 30, and cannot read. Are they homeless because educational opportunities weren't there for them? Or did the lack of education lead to drug abuse/self-abuse which led to homelessness? Or were they always struggling readers and they never had a teacher stop the whole "let's just shove them through to the next grade" craziness that happens (I tried to hold a kiddo back, but my incompetent principal shoved her on to the next grade)? So that one day, these guys are in the 9th grade and still cannot read. So that one day, instead of going to school, they just ditch to go get high/cause trouble/be sad/numb their pain at their "failures"?
I used to be a teacher and I think I was a decent one. I cared more about my students that I thought was humanly possible and I still carry them with me to this day. When I hear two homeless guys who can't read, I am all too aware that that STILL could be one of my kids. Who did I miss? What did I not see?
I've learned that I need to be nicer in my mind to homeless people. I need to get back to giving them food. I also learned that I have a few emails and phone calls that I need to make happen this week. A few students who need me still. So, I will do that in honor of these two guys on the bus this morning.