Today is the fourth day of my not feeling well. Actually, it’s been more than four days, because I wasn’t firing on all cylinders last week, either. The weekend was spent (mostly)in bed, apart from getting up to vote — we’ve just had a federal election here in Australia. The lukewarm campaign was two months long, and (at the time of writing) we don’t have a clear winner yet. I briefly contemplated not voting, and risking a $20 fine, but pushed the thought aside. I’ve been indoctrinated into a dogma, like not eating meat on Good Friday.
I did go to work on Monday, but went home after a couple of hours. I went home to a hot bath, warm bed, a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup and a cuddly cat. I had medication, my TV and shows to watch. My wifi and smartphone had me still connected to the wider world. I was acutely aware that I was lucky.
It’s been unseasonably cold in Adelaide this winter. Monday was no different. Icy wind, torrential rain, angry clouds accompanied me on my journey home. My cat was there to greet me, flopping on her back, tempting (taunting? daring?) me to rub her stomach, which is always a mistake. I shut out the elements as soon as I walked in the front door.
I’ve noticed more homelessness people in Adelaide this year than last. They lie huddled under mountains of blankets in doorways and alcoves. Some are asleep, with hats — some empty, some containing coins and notes — outreached on pavements next to and in front of them. I empty my purse into a hat of a favourite — a man with a stringy beard and deep, soulful eyes — who never fails to wish me a cheery hello whenever I pass. I wish I had a bottomless purse. I wish I could empty my purse into all the outstretched hats I see.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be ill and without shelter in winter. Summer, with its relentless heat, would be no better. And it’s for this reason that I’m grateful, for so many things, even though I am ill. I am grateful that circumstances — individual, societal, national and global — haven’t conspired against me to render me homeless.
Anything else is a #firstworldproblem.
I do have an idea to help homeless people that may seem glib, but keeping warm in winter is crucial, particularly if shelter can’t be found. How about designing a battery operated, machine-washable Snuggie? If we can send probes into space, surely we could design something to make life better for our most vulnerable citizens?
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