When you get to Indianapolis for GenCon you are sent to a "marshaling yard". Since the docks can't fit everyone at once, you are sent to a warehouse district nearby to wait your turn. Its a gravel lot with a porta-john and not much else. When there's room at the docks, they call you and you can drive over.
As I left the lot to make my way to the convention center I was worried about all manner of things. Were we on a good spot? Did I have enough stock? Did I forget something? Would our new minion work out? All of this stuff buzzes around. You can't help it. As I pulled out of the lot I took a side street that ran between a warehouse and a small river, and there, carved out of the weeds and brush, was a small tent city.
It hadn't been there before. But there it was. There were signs it had been there some time. Months maybe. The tents were well worn. So were the men in them. A mixture of white and black, young and old. Living in Wellington I haven't seem homeless people in quite a while. It was a shock I suppose.
There are panhandlers on the streets of Indy. A dozen or so around the convention center. I haven't given any money to them the last two years. I wondered as I drove past the tent city, why that was. I generally don't think that homeless people are lazy or unworthy of help or charity. I guess I just assumed the ones by the convention center were the pros. I've read about some panhandlers who make thousands per year. Then there are the slackers. The disheveled youth sitting near coffee shops with their dogs endlessly smoking and hanging out. There's no way to know if they are truly homeless or just apathetic.
I thought I might take a closer look at the faces on the streets after we finished for the day. But every place to eat is jam packed in the city and we drove back to our motel a few miles away. It was the same story the next day, and the next. By the fourth day I was so tired from working. We finished the day and started teardown. They turn off the AC so it gets hot pretty quick. We pull apart our booths and pack away our stock. Eventually I have to head off to the marshaling yard to wait my turn at the docks. It's a long wait. I check my email, make a lost of shit that has to get done by the end of the week. After an hour I get the green light to go.
As I pull out of the lot I pass the tent city again. It's filling up. I had somehow managed to avoid the homeless outside the convention hall, but that didn't mean they had disappeared. They never disappear. They just get forgotten.
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I'm always of two minds about giving to homeless people. On one hand they obviously need help. On the other there's a good chance they're going to take my money and spend it on booze or drugs.
Its hard to make a decision. And when you work in a place like downtown Cleveland there are LOTS of them and you become innured to their suffering.
I can only hope the ones I gave money to spent it to get some food, not crack or Night Train...
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