|Our homeless guy's bench. He's a bit of a hoarder.|
I'm a mom and one of the identifying characteristics of moms is that we tend to worry. My worries range from the mundane (Are my adult aged kids brushing their teeth before going to bed?) to the more global (Is Iran developing a nuclear weapon?). With below freezing temperatures in Paris this week, I'm currently worried about "our" homeless guy.
Just like the baker, the waiters at the cafe and the man at the newsstand, our homeless guy is an integral part of the neighborhood. Well, we actually have quite a few a homeless guys - there are two in front of the bank who offer helpful advice about how to open the door with your bank card; one in front of the grocery store who always says, Bonjour, madame, and asks for spare coins; one in front of the bakery who looks at me with soulful eyes and an outstretched hand; and "our" homeless guy. With a perpetually jaunty step and upbeat attitude, he's an enigma. What's his story? Why is this guy living on the street?
Since I can see his bench from our living room window, I frequently find myself checking on his well-being. He's fastidious and regularly gives the entire area a good scrub before rearranging all of his belongings under various waterproof tarps. In the morning, he airs out his bedding and then stows it away for the day. I know that he gets fresh water from the Wallace fountain behind our apartment in the summer, but what does he do during the winter?
But even more importantly, he's missing. I haven't seen him for the past couple of days. My only hope is that he's in a shelter. According to a bulletin on the official website for the city of Paris, there are an additional 550 temporary beds in gymnasiums and 140 beds in shelters during periods of extreme cold. According to a recent article in Le Figaro, there are an estimated 5,000 homeless people in Paris.
It's freezing cold out there!
If you see a homeless person who is in dire need of social assistance, call 115 (Samu social). For an emergency, call 15 (Samu) or 18 (firemen).
|Our homeless guy scrubbing the area around his bench. Come to think of it, his pile of belongings has grown considerably since I took this photo in August. He really needs a home where he can store all of his stuff!|