I casually drop $126 dollars on a couple of gluten-free pizzas, some veggie soup and an array of artisan chocolates at Erewhon in Venice, CA to bring over to my girlfriend’s house a few blocks away.
After we finish our fireside chat, I get in my Range Rover and begin driving home. It’s around 10pm, on the 23rd of December.
The streets are bare, the winds picking up. As I pull to a halt at the stop sign, I see the crumpled figure of a person curled in fetal position on the sidewalk, convulsing on the cold asphalt with a plaid shirt pulled over their face.
It’s the kind of sight where it’s hard to look. And even harder to look away.
A quick series of thoughts flash across my mind: “Pull over. Make sure this person is okay. Give them your coat.”
Instead, I make the left turn and keep driving home to my safe, warm, comfortable life.
But the damage is done. I allowed myself to care — even if just for a split second. And the care in my heart isn’t backing down.
As I near the next intersection, I realize I’m in a choice point moment. The timeline in which I drive home and hang the almost $300 dollar faux fur Spirit Hood coat in my closet, knowing full well I have the resources to order myself another one in less than 60 seconds, suddenly seem ludicrous in the face of such overt suffering.
“Fuck.” I say to my dog, who is staring at me intently from the passenger seat. She knows something’s up.
I make a sudden U-turn. My heart rate speeds up. Am I really going to approach this person? What if they’re dangerous? What if they’ve got a weapon on them? What if this is stupid?
I park, and get out. Approaching the twitching figure I see that — in a desperate attempt to create a shield, a layer of protection, a cocoon for the head — the plaid shirt is exposing the tender lower back and belly. Filthy sneakers have been kicked half off. No other possessions are in sight, no backpack, no trash bags. Nothing. Just a man on a sidewalk, exposed and alone.
A man who appears to be scrawny enough to fit just fine into my plush coat.