The Blue Collar Worker

Four years ago I moved away from home. My parents let this “Asia bird” fly the coup. They hoped they taught her enough of what she’d need to know in the real world, and that she’d be just fine.


My parent’s gift was to provide their children with the necessary tools to use in certain situations. I have used them all, and many times gone back to old ones, and also developed new ones.


I’m attempting to write more, share more, and in doing so I also face one of my greatest fears; judgment and acceptance. I’m sharing more, and hope those that read my writing have an impact on a deeper level.


I’ve been hungry and had little reserve to spend aimlessly. (And yes, food is in the budget) sometimes I’m hungry, but don’t have the money…so whenever I have leftovers, I always take them home with me. Even when I could save them for myself for later…I never hesitate to share…


 Al is a blue-collar worker I met stumbling through the subway today.

 I had half a sandwich leftover from dinner. I hauled it around New York all night, getting whiffs of the Ham and Brie arbitrarily. My food budget was gone, and I needed something to eat later. But when I saw him, I didn’t think twice! I approached him…


I smiled, said hi, and with no eye contact or hesitation, this was his response,


             "I’m not a bum ma’am,

             I’m just really tired.

     I’ve worked 12hour days straight

             For as long as I can remember.

             I’m not a bum ma’am,

             You know, I really do got a house and family

             And someone has to do it.

             It’s just something you’ve gotta do.

     I’m not a bum. I’m not a bum.”


 He continued to mumble to himself and pace back and forth, and in a subtle attempt, I tried to offer him my sandwich.

It was after I offered forward the bag, when he made eye contact with me, and continued to try to convince me he wasn’t homeless. But this time, he was no longer mumbling, but rather raising his voice and yelling.


 I started to get a little afraid and worried about what to do if his yelling escalated toward something else. A second later, I couldn’t control the words that came from my mouth.


"You know, I’m not a bum either, but sometimes I get very hungry and don’t have money to buy food. So, homeless or not, everyone needs to eat. I’ve already had half, and you can have the other."


 He paused, looked at me puzzled, and I asked him his name. It was Al. I wished him well, and then I walked away, listening to him yelling at himself and convincing himself that he wasn’t a bum.


 The significance of a “hello” is more than most know…


 He and I fed each other more than food could ever offer.