I lost my compassion for homeless people in three phases.
The first phase was when I saw my first batch of homeless in Hollywood, California in 1982.
I was barely 20 years old and had just driven cross-country from Texas to California—leaving college, an apartment full of furniture and a cat—to pursue my dreams of an acting career. I was amazed that most of the homeless people in Hollywood were my age and younger and they were either runaways and/or drug addicts.
In the early 80’s, Hollywood Boulevard was nothing like the Disney-esque, tourist-friendly trap it is today. Back then, in addition to the homeless kids who sat slumped along the star-lined sidewalks begging for money, your shopping choices consisted mostly of either porn or pawn shops or really bad food.
Despite the dirt and danger, I loved hanging out in Hollywood.
The car I had driven to California broke down soon after I arrived so the RTD bus line was my main mode of transportation. I never worked less than 2 or 3 jobs at a time but I still managed to spend almost every spare moment at Grauman’s Chinese Theater looking at the hand and footprints of the stars-- until those homeless kids finally got to me.
At first I gave them whatever pocket change I had. After all, it was the “humanitarian” thing to do, right? But one day it hit me that there I was, a young girl, completely alone in California, no car, working several jobs and taking classes in-between. So why should I give one penny of my hard-earned money to these slugs who were practically laying on the ground every day asking for handouts? It made me angry.
My solution: I stopped spending time at the Chinese Theater.
The second phase of my homeless frustrations occurred years later when I was a newly divorced single mom living in Hollywood.
The best word to describe this part of my life was “racing”. From the crack of dawn to the end of the evening, I had to watch the clock every hour and minute to juggle all my responsibilities—whether it was getting my son to school and myself to work, or picking him up after school, taking him to his after-school program and rushing back to work; basically every hour of every day was a race to stay ahead.
So I quickly became very resentful of all the homeless people—again my own age—who hung out in front of my local gas station begging for money.