Active homeless

Active homeless

Impressions of needy persons

Homeless people can be found in parks, rivers, and train stations.

According to a 2023 survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of people living on the street in Japan is about 3,000.

The significant decrease from about 25,000 people 20 years ago is probably due to the support activities of local governments and private organizations.

According to an interview conducted by the City of Nagoya with local residents, 90% said they had seen homeless people, and many said they had no particular interest in getting involved.

I, too, have seen them, but I have never tried to get involved with them.

Most of them acted as if they had no connection with the mundane world, and I never felt their will or enthusiasm to escape their impoverished lives.

I got the impression that they were all slumped over, saying nothing, waiting for someone to give them a helping hand with an empty can placed in front of their bodies.

An eloquent homeless man appears

On a recent trip to Osaka, I had an experience that completely changed my impression of homeless people.

A man who appeared to be in his mid-30s to 40s was aggressively asking for help from people he passed.

I want to get off the streets. I want to eat so that I have the strength to work. Recently, the price of bento has gone up, so I would like someone to donate 1,000 yen!

Perhaps a bit rude, but his explanation is simpler and easier to understand than that of a politician making a street speech at a train station.

He begins by sharing the current issues, then explains his enthusiasm for overcoming the problems and the specific measures he would like to take, and finally offers a proposal that takes into account the social situation.

However, many people on the street are not accustomed to homeless people who proactively offer suggestions, and they seem upset when they are suddenly approached.

It’s only natural that no one would say, “Good luck!” and give 1,000 yen.

Even if he did speak up to get involved with others, the world is still not that easy to deal with.

When the way we see things changes

I was approached as I passed by him and out of curiosity, I exchanged a few words with him.

“If you want to build up your strength, why don’t you just line up at a soup kitchen run by a support group?”

“Depending on the day of the week, there are soup kitchens in parks, associations, and volunteer facilities. Just today, there is a soup kitchen at night, so I need your help with my bus fare!

This man was not just repeating the same pleading script, but he raised a new suggestion of support for bus fare in response to my question.

He was much better than the new graduate employee who memorized the catalog information of the company’s products, did not listen to the client’s request, and just kept on explaining.

“It is certainly hard to walk. If it were bus fare, would 500 yen be enough?”

The bus fare is the same in the city, so I want 210 yen!

I was surprised that he lowered his offer of assistance to ¥210, despite the possibility of getting ¥500 from me, but he was a somewhat friendly person, so I gave him ¥210 and left.

As I was waiting for the light at the crosswalk to turn green, I heard a voice arguing about something.

I pretended to look at my phone and stopped to listen to the exchange.

Someone said, “One thousand yen is too much. Don’t eat a better bento than me, even if you’re homeless!

“As one would expect from Kansai people. You’re responding to a homeless person’s suggestion by dissing him…”

It’s a bento and two cups of tea for 398 yen each, so it’s not luxurious or anything!

“I see. Since it is hard to find people to support, he is asking for one day (two meals) from a kind person? He’s well thought out.”

I don’t know anything about that! Have some water!

Completely outwitted by the logical-homeless, a Kansai resident managed to get by with the useful Osaka word “I don’t know,” and responded with a terrible bashing.

I’d like 120 yen for just a cup of hot tea!

The perfect call/response to water is asking for a small bottle of tea for 120 yen instead of the large size for 160 yen.

“I’d rather throw it away than give it to you!” said the Kansai guy, who ended up walking away with a throwaway line without supporting him by a single yen.

I thought that he was angry and said something back to rude man, but he didn’t shout any abuse at man, but instead called out to the next pedestrian.

He doesn’t have time to play with people who are unlikely to support him to maintain a lifeline.

A couple walking from the other side of the street was impressed, saying, “I’ve never seen a homeless guy like that before!

He is a fundamentally different person from the homeless people I have seen in the past.

I don’t know if he really wants to get out of his current environment, but I would call him an “Active homeless person.”

Active homeless

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