I met a man named Roderick yesturday at the Amoco gas Station on Ashland and 290. He sleeps in the doorway of the trucker's union building and used to briefly work for the gas station at the car wash before it got shut down. He asked if he could pump my gas for me - "can I earn the dollar?" After I just offered him whatever change there was. He wiped down my windows with much conviction and concentration and inquired "if you have any leftovers I would appreciate them." All my life I encountered a lot of homeless people. Living in the city that is just how things are. Sometimes I get good feelings from being approached by people in need and other times I am on guard, because you can tell they are unpredictable due to being high or mentally disabled. I still make the effort to say hello, to make eye contact. It isnt fair for me to treat them like animals, despite their choices. They still are alive and they all came from someplace.We all share a memory of childhood regardless.
Roderick projected something on me last nite. Perhaps it was his ernest tone and that he didn't look away when I looked straight at him. I introduced myself to him and shook his hand. Maybe it was that he offered a glimpse into his life to me and made no excuses. As there are many levels of efforts and affection amongst the people who are "average" in society there are those in the level seen as "subpar" by society that need the extra chance. That regardless of their mess of insitincts of choices are still entitled to basic human needs. Even animals are provided for in the city, shelter and food”¦how can we reject our own? I thought about him this morning and I thought about him this afternoon purchasing lunch. When I gave him a dollar and change I said to him "use it for anyway that is best to your needs" and he said " I just would like to eat." I asked him if he was around the station a lot, perhaps it was his spot where he tried to make some money, he asked me why I cared and I told him Id like to bring him food some time when I come through that gas station too.
When I got back in the car my dinner companion asked me "have you thought about trying to apply your architecture skills in helping the homeless?" Spot on.
I owe this experience to my father. When I was 8, 1991-92 he took me down to Wacker drive, before it was cleaned up one afternoon. He didnt make judgements he just asked me to come with him to show me something. We drove through and he just said this is where some people live (and back the lower Wacker was filled with shantytowns of the homeless)... he sowed a mustard seed in me and I will never forget that image... He didnt feel the need to force my direction only expand my mind.. and now older I find myself searching for a way to contribute, be it in this context but somehow to the betterment of our condition. Today when I talk about this with my father, he suggest how I could apply this in a worldy way, in third world countries, in my own homeland, eatern block of europe.. there are avenues within this profession where I could do this, put my skills, begin my path toward licensure in this direction... How am I supposed to do this as an architect? Where do I go starting in Chicago? Who do I talk to? Where to begin?
This couldnt come at a better time. I realize that UIC is no longer nurturing me in this fashion. I still have technicalities to learn there. But in atmosphere I think my place at that institution is finished. Just as I was down and confused about my direction, life offered up a bit of an inisight.. i have to make use of it, now how.