I live a block away from this shelter, and I walk past it every day on my way to work. At first, I was very scared passing through there since it was a home for the night type of thing. You will never know what type of people are there by the streets, eyeing you as you walk by, and maybe thinking all sorts of criminal acts. Yes, I am that negative. I was mugged before, and let’s just say, I have learned my lesson. Trusting is not an easy deal for me.
Anyway, what I did was bring with me a bag of bread every single day, and I would give that out to anyone who asked as I pass by. This made me popular with the peeps there, and in a way, they protected me. One time, a guy was hustling me for cash, and this old veteran, Kilo, as they called him, grabbed him from behind and told him that I was untouchable. They called me “untouchable,” and it made me relax a bit.
But if a man is hungry and hasn’t eaten for days, will I still be untouchable? It was early March, and I saw Kilo by my apartment doorstep. He was looking for me and apparently, needed a place to stay for the night. My mind was, will I trust this person? He is homeless, was a war veteran with two tours to Afghanistan and honorably discharged. Do I let him in or not? What if he has COVID-19? It was cold outside, and I saw him shivering. He was about to leave when I reached for my buzzer, and I let him in.
Kilo is about my dad’s age, and you can see that life was not easy on him. I told him that he can stay as long as he likes and that I have a spare room. My only rules were social distancing, and for now, he cannot go out of the room for fourteen days, until we are sure that he is virus-free. I think he understood the idea and went into the room immediately. It had a small toilet and bath, a TV, and foam on the floor. I told Kilo that I would drop food by his door, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Every day for 14 days, we did that routine. I dropped food, and the tray would go back clean, and with a thank you note. Kilo seemed educated, but I haven’t really spoken to him about why a war veteran like him was homeless.
After two weeks, I took home a rapid testing kit that my employer provided to me a month ago. He tested negative. Kilo came out of the room, and we did a little bit of celebration. I told Kilo that he could stay if he does not have anywhere to go as long as he does not kill me. He laughed and said that he would protect me as long as I live.
The old man was disciplined, and he was keen on getting fit. He still did not tell me why he was homeless, and we talked nothing too deep in my life except that he was a skilled pianist! Kilo was also a great cook, which suited me well because I did not have to be in the kitchen! He would also go to the market, but of course, I reminded him of the safety precautions. Kilo would also help me out with my work. He delivers the orders that I get online, and in a way, he earns from it too. He cleaned up nicely, and I see a bit of Denzel in him, to be honest.
People will be at their best if you show them that they are worth it. I am not saying that you can house every homeless veteran that you meet. No. Stranger danger first, please. It’s just that my human side just popped up when I saw him out in the rain; a hero of America is homeless. He protected me, and I saw the need to protect him too.