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What One Might See at McDonalds
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 by Frank Shortt
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A, seemingly, homeless man entered the McDonalds Restaurant I had chosen to have breakfast. He was begrimed from head to toe. His clothing had not been changed in several weeks or months. He had not had a bath in many days. The toes of his dirty old sneakers showed his filthy feet!

He was talking to himself as if there was an audience in the room. What he said made little sense, but I strained to hear his words as I sometimes glean a story from what other folks say. I assumed he was alone due to his appearance, but as I listened to him I knew that he had some serious mental health problems brought on by acute alcoholism or narcotics addiction. He pulled out a few crumpled bills, payed for his order, and left the premises. I never saw him again. Where he got money I never knew.

As I sat contemplating the first encounter, a woman with very scraggly hair entered the door where the man had just exited. She too had a be-smudged face, very soiled clothing and run-down old sandals not fit to be worn. One could see that in her past she was an attractive lady, and her vanity showed as she tried to make herself look attractive, even in her condition. It is human nature to face life looking in a rear-view mirror.

She was having a conversation with some unseen companion. Her garbled words bespoke of past affairs, those who had been unkind to her, and of a very troubled childhood. She spoke of how she had went on the streets at an early age, dabbling in drugs of all kinds, drinking anything with alcohol in order to just go to sleep, no matter where she lay her head. It did not matter who her partner was for the night, mostly just to stay warm.

Cities throughout America are experiencing the crisis of homelessness. McDonalds is not the only place of business having to deal with these vagabonds of society. Mental illness, alcoholism, and drug addiction has taken the place of sanity, responsibility, and the will to live a normal life. Having volunteered in a Rescue Mission for over 15 years taught me a lot about the ones who choose to inhabit our streets and the riverbanks.

We who do not have to face the problems of the downcast daily are blessed beyond any human reasoning. It is only the grace of a generous Creator that allows us to be good citizens and be able to work out a living with our own hands. Were we in this diluted condition, we too would be totally alone even with hundreds of others around us. It is often called the survival of the fittest!

Is there a solution? Cities are trying to house these poor, wandering souls. This is not the answer at the onslaught! Before turning a person loose to fend for themselves, requires a great amount of training. The Armed Forces do not turn any military person loose on a field of battle before giving that person the necessary survival training. What a chaos there would be on a battlefield if there was not training beforehand. It is my contention that before any government agency turns a person loose on their own they should be trained in all the problems they will face. They should be required to sober up, if they have an addiction. They should be shown the basics of cleanliness, not only of their person, but how to keep their environment clean. There should be centers set up for this purpose. There should be leaders chosen from among the ranks that have been proven beforehand, to lead and train the other residents. This would reveal the ones who are incapable of learning basic tasks and being able to take care of themselves. These would be taken to other areas of care. This would be much like basic training in the military without the browbeating and cursing encountered by the raw recruits. Of course, it would require leaders who are patient, assertive and regimented to the challenge ahead. America, it is worth a try!

Otherwise, we are back to square one with trashy environments, cluttered streets, and beggars coming to McDonalds for a handout!