A man with a No-Shave-November face came up to me yesterday and demanded that I give him cash. I immediately asked him what I owed him and he stopped in his tracks. He wasn’t expecting such a response.

I told him I’d cut him a check on Thursday and we both laughed. Nobody uses checks anymore—not even the homeless. The homeless do have pets though.

An increasing number of those without homes these days will have some sort of animal companion. This particular gentleman had a small dog in the cart he was pushing around. Dogs are quite popular, especially small ones. Cats, less so. Cats don’t like being put on a leash, so they aren’t nearly as popular with the nomadic culture.

Since this hairy guy was feeding two, I figured I’d give him a couple bucks. It wouldn’t go very far, but then, it wasn’t going to do much for me either. I would certainly skip a snack, or seven snacks, to know the man and his dog might eat. Here’s to hope and the hereafter. May we all have homes in the hereafter.

Not too long ago, in the same part of town, I saw a woman with a snake. Life is full of patterns and this is a recurring one in my life. Why do women like to have snakes as pets? Not all women do, for sure. But whenever I learn of someone who has a pet snake, it’s never a man. Ive never known a man to have a pet snake, but I’ve known at least ten women who’ve opted for the slithery variety of pet, though I’ve only recently started wondering why.

“And what do you feed your pet snake?”

“It eats mice.”

“What kind of mice?”

Live ones.”

“So you’re a woman who doesn’t mind handling mice? Or snakes? A woman who doesn’t cringe at the fact that a mouse is not dead when it gets devoured? No? Hmmm…interesting.”

Talk about destroying the stereotypes of women in my mind. I had the apparently goofy misconception of women being afraid of critters—especially the critters that slither, or the kind of critters with whiskers and tiny feet.

Yet another stereotype I had in my mind was that homeless people don’t care about much. Not true at all.

The woman cared about her snake. The man with the big beard on his face and the mini-dog in the grocery cart cared about his dog. There was a dog food bag in the cart with the dog. I couldn’t see the dog food, but I didn’t happen to see any people food anywhere, or even human food bags. So the dog was probably not neglected. I’d extend the benefit of the doubt for him.

I guess once you learn something like this, you change your mind, and that’s exactly what I did. I stopped thinking of homeless people as careless. They have all the same cares, and can be as caring as anyone who just happens to have a house to sleep in.

Makes it easier to care about them, doesn’t it? Once you realize they’re all, in some way, exactly like the rest of us.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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