A few weeks ago, the Bible study group I'm joining had a meeting. One of the ladies is a missionary and so when the email said to bring toiletries and small things for gift bags for the homeless, I automatically assumed that they'd be going to her to distribute. Ooh, was I wrong.
We were going to distribute them. Individually. And so I left the meeting with three bags full of snack food, soap, hand sanitizer and other assorted goodies. And they've been sitting in my bedroom since then.
See, I've become a bit of a recluse. I don't go out all that often, and when I do, I rarely see anyone begging. Those little bags guilt-trip me as they hang out on the bedroom floor. I don't like to carry around big handbags all that often, so the largest has yet to venture out with me, packed with feminine pads and full-size toothbrushes. In Leblon, I would have had no trouble finding people to give these to; there was a verifiable homeless guy who hung around by the street lamp, a mover's blanket seemingly surgically attached to his left shoulder. There was a nice guy who sat at the corner of the school, a disabled man who smoked with a languor that was worth photographing, and a passle of ladies who camped out at the banks and drugstores. But here in Barra? I didn't want to offend the last person I saw who might have been a candidate for the little gift; he appeared to be homeless (raggedy clothes, barefoot and a strong personal odor) but he didn't ask for anything from anyone and after admiring the waves for a while (as I was doing myself) he moved on his way. The begging crowd mostly moves in on the weekend, to harass couples out on the town. Mothers (and I use the term loosely) bring their kids in, make sure not to wipe their snotty faces or comb their hair, and send them out selling candies, begging coins, snatching food off unattended tables, etc. I never see these people during the week, so I imagine they're just "working" away from home. Still, we haven't gone out to dinner around here in a while, so I haven't had many interactions with that crowd.
But today, I managed to pass off one of the goodie bags. I was on my way to the bank, for the second fruitless time, and I saw a scraggly guy walk up to a tiny sapling planted in front of the building. He carefully adjusted his shorts so no one could see his penis as he let a huge arc of urine fly, watering the patch of dirt around the tree. His lack of concern for the fact that he was peeing into oncoming pedestrian traffic was sort of endearing. I didn't want to interrupt though. When I left the bank, he was sitting on the steps. Nameless peeing dude became the first recipient of the guilt-inducing bags. I wanted to tell him he really ought to find a slightly less public place to use the bathroom, but declined. After all, he did do a really good job of preserving his modesty!