By Tanya Soto and Adrian Ruiz
About 1.56 million people are living on the streets in the United States. People end up with no basic resources and find themselves abandoned on the side of the road—constantly ignored due to adversities such as traumatic events like house fires, job loss, mental health and addictions. Without knowing their stories and how they got in their current situation, humanity tends to turn a blind eye to these people and go along with our day. Although society tends to believe that all the people in need are addicted to drugs or alcohol, that’s not always the case.
Adrian stated that he has seen a man that has been seen sitting on a bench at the entrance of Old Town Tustin multiple times. So after school one day, we decided to approach this man and see how he was doing. Taking advantage of this confrontation, with only six dollars in our pockets, we decided to buy him a sandwich from Cream Pan Bakery in Old Town Tustin. As we approached him, both of us contracted sweaty palms from nervousness. We walked by and noticed he was sleeping. He was at peace, with his hands together over his belly, with no worries at all. Adrian accidentally dropped his skateboard and once the four wheels dropped down to the concrete, two eyes opened up. We walked closer, introduced ourselves, and extended our hands. He greeted us but instead of lending a hand, he extended a fist for a casual fist-bump. We gave him the sandwich and as he took it, a bright dazzling smile broke upon his face and he thanked us.
After our introductions, we expected him to state his name—no name was stated. Despite this, we continued conversing with him and relating with him—about how our parents were poor immigrants and how they also experienced poverty. He politely listened, as we went on to explain how society seems to misunderstand the people in need and often mold them into a person that is addicted to drugs or alcohol. He mentioned how “not all cases are like that and that there’s nothing wrong with being poor.” With much curiosity, we listened and expected for him to contribute and tell us his life story. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite open and left us wondering. We explained that we attended Tustin High School and how we want to take advantage of our education to pursue a life better than what our nonprivileged immigrant parents have had. He wished us “the best of luck.” Although we were a bit saddened that our curious thirst was not quenched, we definitely made a new friend. We wish him the best of luck as well and hope that this current state of his life is just a short episode that will soon improve.
Because society has preconceptions that stereotype groups of people, we often characterize people without acknowledging their stories or pasts. We jump to conclusions and think the worst of people. Are people really who we think they are? The stereotypes we mold people into aren’t always necessarily true. So before we go on and judge people shouldn’t we make sure we know enough information about that person? Consider that.