Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Samaritans

It was bitterly cold this morning. As I posted only a week or so ago, it has been unseasonably cold. At the breakfast shift this morning I saw one of those little moments that makes you feel good about being human.

One of our regulars (I’ll call him Tom) turned up for breakfast without shoes or socks and wearing nothing warmer than a summer t-shirt. He wouldn’t say what had happened, but presumably he had some kind of trouble in the night and had to abandon some squat in a hurry.

Immediately, some of the other guys responded. One took off his own coat and gave it to Tom, and another rummaged in his bag to find a clean pair of socks. A third organised Tom a hot coffee and buttered him some toast.

All these guys have next to nothing of their own. All of them live one day at a time in desperate conditions. Yet two of them recognised how much more Tom was in need and shared the little they had, while a third stepped up to do the bit he could.

Before anyone worries too much more about Tom and the other guy who gave up his coat, I was able to help both out later. Thanks to some emergency relief supplies we can get access to, the other guys coat was replaced within a couple of hours. As to Tom, thanks to the supplies (largely provided by Local Church Parishes and charities) we were able to make good most of what he had lost. So by this afternoon he had a whole new kit including new boots, good second hand clothes and a new swag.

Now some photos, these are from Port Melbourne. Port Melbourne is sited on Port Phillip Bay at the mouth of the Yarra. It is a funny mix. In the past it was largely industrial and what housing was there was essentially slums. Now it is in the process of being shifted upmarket so you find:
Harbour facilities and warehouses.
Multi million dollar flats (apartments in American English),
Derelict piers,
And expensive boutique shopping where millionaires park their boats.
Now that is enough for tonight.


Amanda said...

I love hearing stories like that. On a completely opposite note, my first winter in NYC I was at an underground subway stop at night and saw around four or five homeless people sleeping on the platform across from me. They were at different spots. And another homeless guy was going around and stealing all their coats. I was outraged. And more outraged at myself because there was little I could do about it. I am so glad to hear stories then when people go above and beyond to help each other out.

Wendy R said...


Such an interesting post - juxtaposing this story withe these images makes a further point, I think.

great as always


Lisa said...

Very heartwarming. The very people that would least be willing to give up the little they have do it while there are so many with so much that don't feel like they need to help.

Walk Talk Tours said...

Good to hear people rally round in a crisis. We learn more about ourselves and our fellow human beings in the tough times.

Al said...

Hi Amanda,
Don't get me wrong many of the homeless are opportunists when they get the chance, they are desperate. Yet somehow, most of them are also painfully aware of what it is like to have nothing and are more than willing to share at those moments.

Hi Wendy,
Isn't juxtaposition such a useful tool as a writer. You can make a point with absolute economy. Thank you for the complement, coming from such a thoughtful person as yourself it means a lot.

Hi Lisa,
It is heart-warming. It can be very humbling to see such generosity of spirit.

Hi Phil,
Thanks for the comment mate. It is amazing how much we can learn from people, so often people come through for others.

Brian, the old man said...

This story brings a tear to my eye. It is great when people step in and help each other in times of crisis even in a hardship. This is truly God's hands at work. Miracles do happen every day.

The Rainbow Bank said...

Good people still exist and the internet is helping to spread this message.Good one Al.Cold in Melbourne?

Al said...

Hi Brian,
I think people, and how they respond in difficult times, are the miracle. Life in the face of everything is a miracle.

Hi Simon,
I think there is certainly a caring, wonderful side to almost everyone. It is just a matter of them finding it in themselves. It was Bloody freezing in Melbourne last week, even snow in the high country around the metropolitan area. Not at all like spring.