THE KIDS MEET A HOMELESS MAN by Jason Liebman
Jimmy was walking home from school with his friends, Peter and Sarah.
They walked past a stranger sitting on the floor outside the convenience store. He was dirty, his clothes were torn, he was holding a cup and begging for money.
Peter turned to Sarah and Jimmy and said, “Hey watch this,” with a mischievous smirk on his face.
As Sarah and Jimmy watched, Peter walked over to the stranger, kicked over his cup, and ran away yelling, “get a job, bum!”
Jimmy and Sarah ran to catch up with their friend. Sarah charged at Peter yelling, “that was mean Peter!”
Peter then turned to Jimmy saying, “I bet YOU thought that was cool.”
Jimmy didn't know what to say.
“I don't know Peter. My dad says it isn't nice to kick people's stuff.”
Peter scoffed at his friend “Yeah well, he's just a bum! My daddy says they don't work so they end up on the street.”
Sarah, still angry with Peter, said “just because they are bums doesn’t mean you can kick their cups, you meanie!” And went home in a huff.
Jimmy was confused. He didn't know what to think, but he had to get home for dinner.
Later that night, sitting at the dinner table, Jimmy asked his father, “Dad, are bums people?”
Jimmy’s father nearly spit out his food in surprise at his son’s question, but he responded by asking, “what makes you ask that, son?”
“Well, I was with Peter and Sarah after school today,” and Jimmy recounted the events outside the convenience store for his father.
“So, that’s why you were asking about homeless people.” Jimmy’s father said in response to his son’s story.
“Yeah,” Jimmy said confused and shy.
“Of course, the homeless are people,” his father began, “And it is not nice to kick over anyone’s cup. That man doesn’t have a place to live, but he is still a person.”
“I see,” said Jimmy, “So, why don’t they have a home?”
“Because being an adult is hard, and sometimes bad things happen to people.” he explained, “But that is not a reason to be mean to people.”
“Thanks for helping me understand, Dad.”
The next day, while walking home from school with Peter and Sarah, Jimmy noticed that the same homeless man was sitting outside the convenience store.
Peter had a mischievous grin on his face again, and started walking towards the homeless man shouting “Hey! You bum-“
Before he could get another word out, Jimmy stopped him.
“What are you doing, Peter? This isn’t cool. You’re being mean to a guy who’s just trying to get by.”
Peter felt bad, and hung his head in shame.
And so, Jimmy walked up to the man, reached into his pocket for some spare change, and put it in the homeless man’s cup.
“Sorry my friend was mean to you yesterday, mister.”