“Concrete is my Pillow” A Story of True Strength
by Larry Indiviglia, MA, MBA, TDMM Platinum Level Coach
April has arrived and what is normally a dry month in San Diego has turned “rainy.” After 5 years of drought, the precipitation is most welcome for most of us who live in America’ s Finest City. There are a few that do not like rain, puddles, wet streets and sidewalks. Who?
Four nights a week I eat at a popular vegan restaurant named Café Gratitude (CG) in Downtown San Diego. The food is “clean” and the atmosphere and staff are friendly. I always feel better leaving CG because I am no longer hungry, have connected with some wonderful people, met a new face or two and had a great experience at a “safe haven.” I feel healthier, happier and blessed.
I normally park one-block away from CG, and after a short walk back to my car I get ready to drive home; typically a 6 minute drive to the beautiful neighborhood of Mission Hills, perched atop a hill that overlooks the San Diego skyline and bay. Lately, my drive has been slower due to the rain, and the reduced visibility has forced me to “look more carefully” on the road and my surroundings. AND what I see is a growing population of homeless people taking shelter under the freeway overpass and sleeping on the cold, damp and hard sidewalk. Most are without even a blanket and others lay hungry, lonely, cold and certainly “unsafe” on some old piece of cardboard. Do any of these people feel “healthy, happy and blessed?”
After 3 nights of watching this scene, I decided to stop short of the overpass and ask some of these people what they most need? The younger disabled Veteran asked me for a soft beanie because “my ears are always cold”; an older man with no teeth said he needed “soft food and a plastic spoon”; AND finally a younger woman said to me “concrete is my pillow sir; a soft pillow would help me sleep.”
The next day I purchased a beanie, some applesauce/spoons and a pillow/case to deliver to these 3 poor souls living on cold concrete. The veteran and the woman were there, the older man was gone. When I gave the veteran the beanie he immediately grabbed it and put it on his head, saying nothing. When I gave the younger woman the pillow, she looked at me with these deep brown eyes and said; “it takes a strong person to survive out on these streets sir, God Bless you.” As I walked away, I thought to myself, I think I just witnessed true strength.