This post a couple of days ago, took me back to the end of a what was a very cold December. It was just after Christmas, and it was bitter cold. We were stuffed to our gills with fragrant Thai curries and rice and as we stepped out of the restaurant, the cold wind snapped through the high-rise buildings and stung our faces while we braved ourselves to walk towards our car.
It was bitter cold and the fact that the blood circulation was all directed towards out stomachs made it much worse. As we walked across the store flanked paved courtyard, I noticed a conspicuous pile of clothes by one of the display windows.
This was odd.
It was upscale part of town and pile of clothes and trash were certainly never a common sight. As we walked closer, I realized that the pile was not just old clothes, but there was someone in those old clothes.
He lay huddled amidst layers and layers of old clothing. His bed was made of bits of cardboard and his sheets were old newspapers. He was half asleep, I think. It was dark and Chip was shivering and we walked past him. I called out to BigGeek, and pointed out the man to him. I am sure I wasn't the only one that saw him. It's a fairly busy neighborhood. Someone would have called the authorities, said BigGeek. He must have refused to go to a shelter.
I sighed and walked to the car and thought nothing more of it. Until the next day. I could not get the sight of the man out of my head. How could he survive such bitter cold all night? Guilt overcame me. I should have called. But who? I had no idea who to call, I would have had to look up. But I should have looked up the numbers and should have made that call. I hope that the man is alive and was not frozen to death.
In the VA suburbs of DC, you can call the Crisis Hotline if you see any homless people out in the cold-
- Arlington County : 703-228-1300, 703-527-4077((after hours, weekends and holidays)
- Fairfax County: 703-691-2131
- Loudoun County: 571-258-3033