this story was written pre-pandemic
This is Powell Street subway station in San Francisco. This reality of people, human beings sleeping on the ground like this, under harsh fluorescent lighting all day is something I cannot just walk buy and say "that's normal." It's just not.
I realized that there is something I can do - even if it's a gesture of kindness just that day, it's not going to solve the problem but it will help these particular people so that when they wake up they will have food and a bottle of water.
So I made these really tasty sandwiches with Hawaiian rolls at home and then brought them downtown. Using super soft bread is best because many people don't have a good dental situation going on and hard crusty bread is difficult to bite into if not impossible.
So Henry and Max and I hopped on BART, brought the sandwiches with us, and also socks and a few pairs of shoes we picked up at garage sales because a lot of people are barefoot (which is just insane) and also warm hoodies that were donated to the Street Store. Getting the food and supplies together to do this is not a big deal, you can DIY your own little outreach project. It's really fun once you start because you want to keep doing it, and it takes different forms. There are infinite ways to be kind.
Over the years, I have realized that I think the reason why people do nothing is that it's overwhelming. They feel bad, and then they disassociate. And so I have tried to do projects where I design it so that I give people the opportunity to do something, and I make it as easy as possible for them to donate their time, or to donate hygiene supplies or food.
One act of kindness matters. It really does. And it doesn't matter how that person got there, sleeping in the subway. All that matters is that if you feel *something*, you follow through with an action.