Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The train tracks run right through the town. They separate me from my work, and years ago I would have had to factor in the time I needed to wait for the train that comes through every morning at 9:45. A few years ago the town finished an overpass that let commuters drive under the tracks, whether there is a train or not.

Every morning as I pass the hospital and start slowing down to turn left onto an abandoned road that leads to my office, I see him. He sits under the underpass. He shows up with the morning train and leaves with the evening one. He is settling in when I drive by, and gets up to leave when I'm heading home. He's your stereotypical homeless man. Thin and small, most probably wouldn't notice him. His hair is cut short and curly, his beard is scruffy and his pack is full of plastic bottle and aluminum cans. He sits on a five gallon bucket and waits. Or watches. Or both.

Usually I wave, and think about him the entire drive down the empty road. Today I thought about if I had ever seen his name cross my desk. Did he have a past that I had catalogued? Was his name in our database? Had I been the one who told his potential landlord about his past?

Sometimes the job gets to me. There is only so many hours you can spend thinking about aggravated battery and indecent liberties with a child. I tend to start suspecting everyone. And I am pretty sure that just about everyone in Wichita is a convicted felon. I even have started looking into all the people I meet, to see if they have things to hide. The paranoia is slipping in....

When I left today, my friend wasn't sitting on his bucket, or watching the traffic. He was walking west, away from the tracks. I didn't wave today because he was walking away from me, and on the back of his sweatshirt were a pair of angel wings.

....‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine, And I bet we’d get along just fine, He could calm a storm and heal the blind,
And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine...

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