A Question of Conscience.
Ever make a decision and then question your decision? Last night I made one of those decisions.
Around 11pm, I was taking the dog out for a walk and parked in front of my house I found a blue car. Nothing unusual there; I live in Brooklyn and parking is at a premium here. People park where they can find it, sometimes many blocks from their home.
I remembered that the car had been there for a couple of days. Again, not that unusual in my neighborhood. But then I remembered that I saw a guy sleeping in that same car further down the block about a week ago.
Then I saw him. He was back; either passed out or asleep in his car. Actually his upper half was in the car and his feet were outside through the open driver's door. Why the interior light wasn't on, I have no clue. On the ground around the car was a bunch of garbage. I needed to look a little more closely at him, yup homeless.
I started to walk away, but then I made my decision to call the cops. I didn't want a homeless guy living in his car in front of my house. I have a wife and children to protect, not to mention property. Could I leave huge hunks of meat in my backyard smoking overnight with a hungry homeless man nearby? No.
I wanted him gone.
I called 911 and explained the situation. The police operator asked me if he was doing anything illegal. She asked why I was suspicious of the man. She then asked what I wanted the police to do.
I asked that they send someone to check him out. I called my wife and told her about the man and the call to the police. I told her to keep the kids away from the windows and doors when the cops arrive as I didn't want the homeless guy to know I called the police. I then took my dog for his walk.
As I walked the streets of Brooklyn, I was hit with a pang of guilt. Did I do the right thing? What's keeping me from having to live in my car, apart from the fact that I don't own one at the moment? There but for the grace of God, ya know?
I didn't see him doing anything illegal (Is it legal to sleep in your car on the public streets? I don't know, but I know I've done it on occasion.) I pondered this over the entire time Trooper, my dog and I walked. I finally concluded that I did the right thing. If he was a bad guy, the police would take him in. If he needed help, the police could direct him.
Just as we were returning home, a van load of auxiliary police arrived at my house. (For those of you who don't live in NYC, the NY Auxiliary Police are a group of unpaid volunteers who aren't real police but just look that way. Usually they're reserved for crowd control and that sort of thing.) One of the auxiliary cops woke the man up and asked him if he was OK. I couldn't hear the response, but it must have been what the cop wanted to hear because he got back in the van. Another cop told the man that he had to sleep fully in his car, not hanging half out. She and about 4 other cops then got back in van and left.
I checked on him a few times during the night. A couple of hours later, he was still asleep in his car, but now he was nude. Lovely sight, let me tell you, but perfectly understandable it was hot as hell out. As I closed the curtains, I was hit with one of those WWJD moments. I felt really sorry for him. I told myself that in the morning, I'd get him something to eat and some bottled water. Would I be brave (smart? dumb?) enough to invite him into the house to take care of the three S's? What would Jesus do?
In the morning he was gone.
So let me ask you - did I do the right thing?