Everybody in town knows Roger, well everybody knows who he is. Very few actually know him. You can find him most every day on some major street in town, yelling and screaming at people, or just the air, or the traffic in a very loud voice. I imagine you may have a Roger or two wherever it is that you live.
I have talked to him, just a little, at some low income feeds around town. He is humorous when inside, if a little anxious and loud, but certainly able to function appropriately. I know little about his past, but he does have an apartment in town. He is fairly short, very stout, probably in his sixties somewhere. He usually wears a white t-shirt and keeps his gray hair in a crew-cut.
Rumor has it that he is a Vietnam Vet, who maybe got hit with agent orange. I have no idea if that is true. I was surprised one night while riding my bike to see him playing sweetly with some very young kids. I looked around, even though I wish I wouldn’t have, to see if some adults were near by. Their were plenty and they all seemed fine with Roger, as did the kids.
I saw quite a few people like Roger on the streets. The idea is when you have that much anxiety, you want to be seen, but to allow people emotionally close is just too scary for them, sort of look at me, now go away.
At any rate, at my churches hobo feed last Sunday Roger shows up screaming as usual and keeping a pretty fare distance from the place. I tried to talk to him for a second and could tell right away I wasn’t going to get anywhere, and just went about my business.
People who did not know Roger were getting a little nervous which I understand, if you can’t make any kind of human contact with another person you are not quite sure if he or she can be trusted or not, despite reassurances from others.
Franklin is well into his 80’s and is an old neighbor and friend of Roger. Turns out Roger showed up to talk to him, although he has joined us for meals on occasion.
I was called a puss a lot as a kid, but I eventually found my tough, which I kind of regret. Anyway it looked like Roger had his hand in front of Franklin’s face, who was seated in his car, and waving it around pretty quickly. I just reacted and in my tough guy voice said, “Hey Roger, don’t bully him.” Roger immediately took off and said that he was not bullying him.
Franklin assured me Roger was, “harmless,” but gentleman that he is, thanked me anyway.
When I had a moment to reflect I asked God what happened in that situation. The thought came that I was afraid to be gentle.
I even have a Hobo Metaphysic about being gentle but don’t seem to remember it when I should; it goes like this: “Gentle, beats the shit out of aggressive.” That toughness that is protecting you, is also what’s keeping you lonely, is another phrase I wrote along the same line.
In this tough old world, gentleness and kindness go a long way to making people feel safe around you. I wish I would have quietly approached Roger and Franklin and asked if everything was okay. Live and learn is what being a Christian is about and next time hopefully I will have the courage to display my gentle nature.
Peace to you folks and if you would not saying a prayer for Roger I would appreciate you.