Dressed for winter in 83 degrees, she was wearing a hat with ear flaps. Everything she owned was stacked in a shopping cart in black zippered clothing bags. She looked to be in her 70s.
I couldn’t ignore her. So, I offered her a $10 bill, the only cash I had. She tore it up and threw it my face. “I’m poor and you’re rich,” she hissed. “Leave me alone.”
A woman leaned out of her car window when I walked back to the parking lot. “I saw what happened and I hope this won’t discourage you for helping other people,” she said. “She probably could have used the money.”
I had to do something, so I called the Homeless Coalition when I got home. They were closed. Mall security cars were out in force and the mall would close in two hours. She was so visible and so obviously in trouble, I’m hoping they saw her. Why would she position herself in front of Macy’s on a busy Sunday? To me, that was a cry for help.
Nobody but the police has the resources to pick up troubled people living on the streets and on the edge. I get that. But then what? A shelter? A psych ward? There’s no good answer.
I keep seeing her angry face and thinking, what will she do tonight?
What would you have done?
By Marci Shatzman