Shocked But Now I See – You’re With Us

Shocked Paparazzi

“Oh, I see! They’re with you, right?”

“Pardon?” I said. 

“That man and that woman over there. They’re taking pictures of us. Well, they’re taking pictures of you helping us poor people, right? Are they your camera crew or somethin’?” 

“Oh. No. I don’t. Well, I don’t know those people. They’re not with me. They are definitely taking pictures of us though. Hmm.”

My new young friend “Josh” yelled, “Why don’t you come across the street so that you can get that camera right in my face? How about you come closer so that you can get better pics of us poor homeless people? Come on over. You don’t have to hide!” He cursed under his breath as he claimed a blanket, a coat, a warm beanie, and some food from my car. Before sauntering off, he murmured, “Well, I’m glad they’re not with you. Thank you for the supplies.” 

I had never met Josh before today. There were others at his camp that I did know, but he was new. I assured him that I would never take photos of him like that. Never. I think he believed me?

We watched the timid couple as they heard Josh’s shouts. Their faces seemed to say, “Wait! That guy is yelling at us. Oh no!” Startled that they had been made, they jumped back into their white 15-passenger van, pulled their hats down a touch lower, and continued their stake-out. 

Why were they photographing us? It felt so intrusive. Unpermitted. Sneaky. 

My bewildered stare was soon cracked by Snake yelling, “Oh! Matt! I have ice cold Sprite in a cooler. Hold on. I’ll grab you one.” And he ran back to his tent. 

Today it’s 92 degrees in downtown Denver. That cold Sprite would hit the spot. Yesterday hit an all-time record high for September of 101!

It. Is. Hot. But that all changes tonight. A cold front is slinking towards Colorado that will bring snow and temps in the 20s by tomorrow. 75 degrees colder than yesterday! 

Most of my friends that I visited today didn’t even believe me that the front was coming. For a few, I just set the beanies and coats next to their tents and said, “Believe me or not, here’s some warmth for tomorrow! Don’t use it if you don’t need it. Save it for October.”  

Taken by surprise. Taken off guard. Shocked. 

By weather. By heat. By cold. By a cold Sprite from Snake. 

By covert poverty-porn-paparazzi. 

I pulled my car forward to call a friend that I knew had lost his camp and all his supplies in the city sweeps this week. I plotted my route to go meet him as I watched the white 15-passenger van begin to lurch forward. 

Now I was the P.I. scoping the scene from afar. 

The van moved up 8 parking spots closer to the camp I had just left. The two jumped out of the vehicle grabbing a white tub from the sliding side door. They ran it across the street to the camp as though they were slyly dropping off a bomb and then scuttled back to their van before Josh or anyone else even had time to approach them. 

I was surprised. Shocked. Intrigued. Amazed, really. They were there to share supplies too? 

Oh, I see. They are with us, huh? They watched the weather on the news too and knew that those living without solid houses might need some warmth for the coming storm. 

That’s nice. That’s kind. That’s needed! I’m grateful. Truly. 

But next time, won’t you come on across the street and get close? Get face to face and ask our names? Skip the pics and hold the scene and its realities in your heart. You don’t need to be afraid of “Josh” and “Serenity” or even “Snake.” Cross the street and aim a kind smile at us, won’t you? Have a Sprite! 

You’ll be shocked! Surprised! Taken off guard by how kind and human and grateful these tent-dwellers truly are. You’ll be amazed at how much we all share in common. 

Keep warm this week everyone. And don’t be too shocked when summer returns by the weekend! 

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If you have extra supplies to share, we could use them! Warm coats, sleeping bags, blankets, tarps, gloves, instant hand warmers are all very appreciated as we barrel towards fall and winter. We depleted our entire supply today. Contact Haley to make a drop-off plan.

You can also make a donation online and we can purchase necessities in bulk. Thank you!  

Note: we do not currently need beanies, socks, or most general clothes such as t-shirts. 

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