As I walked, I was not sure what to make of a figure lying on the corner of the street. It appeared to be a young man in his early thirties crouching and convulsively weeping, seemingly unaware of anything happening around him. Simultaneously, two other passers-by also saw the young man and as we acknowledged each other, there was a non-verbal agreement that I would investigate, as I was the closer.
He was dressed in his standard ‘tradies’ shirt, trousers and boots. As I got closer I noticed that one sleeve of his shirt was saturated with his tears. I sat down on the footpath beside him and said nothing.
After a period his weeping began to ease and I asked whether he was ok. He explained his situation.
With a steady job, he was living with his girlfriend, her two children and his dog. He had a job out of town and when his vehicle broke down he found himself unable to pay for the repairs. His girlfriend had been driving him to work each morning at 7.00 o’clock but found it too difficult to manage with the extra burden in addition to her responsibility for her two children. She had asked him to leave.
He now couldn’t get to work, could not pay for the repairs to his car, had no place for his dog and no accommodation.
Feeling inadequate, I jumped into a problem–solving mode asking whether I could offer him some money or a hug. He quietly, but politely rejected both my offers.
We then sat in silence together.
After a time he gained a degree of composure and told me that he was heading up to a mate’s place. He rose able to continue his journey.
He then looked down at me, had the grace to acknowledge this old grey-haired guy sitting on the cement, probably looking a little nonplussed.
“Would you like a hand-up?’ I gratefully received.