Friday, January 15, 2010

Charity begins on the rails.

I've written before about the trash at the train station and on the train; lots of people have a hard time understanding that the world is not their trash can. Littering has never really made sense to me. I won't say I'm the neatest person in the world, but I'm what Holden C. called a "secret slob" - and I have respect for public spaces. If everyone just dropped their trash where they stood, we would be knee deep in garbage all of the time, idiocracy style.

While there is plenty of litter in and around the train, there is a phenomenon I have noticed at the station - street charity. Thus far I have been spared a whole lot of interaction with the homeless when I ride. Sure, I've had people ask me for my ticket when I'm getting off of the train in the evening, and if I have a day ticket, I'm happy to hand it over. After all, I'm done riding for the day, so what does it matter to me? Lately I have noticed people taking their train charity even further than I do.

I saw this pair of Jordans in the station one day, and I was intrigued. These shoes were obviously worn, but not worn out. I have seen plenty of people down on their luck wearing shoes that looked much worse than these; there were many miles of walking left in these shoes. While I do admire the selflessness of leaving these shoes for someone to find, I do wonder what the story is behind these shoes. Did the owner find a better pair of shoes where these were and switch? Did they carry these shoes to the station for the express purpose of leaving them for someone to find? Had they just bought a new pair of shoes and decided to change before getting on the train?

Shoes are not the only thing that people will leave for other folks to find and use should they need them. After I saw the shoes, I became aware that not all of the trash at the stations was really litter. Most was, of course, but I did take a photo of another anonymous donation, this time at the Plano station.
This is a pile of new, wrapped tampons and pantyliners. I can only assume that a kind older woman was going through menopause and cleaning out her purse at the station, came to the realization that while she had no need for these there might be some less fortunate train rider who would. Kudos to you, charitable older woman.

I also thought I'd show you the kind of train riders that need charity. This fine fellow has an obvious need - or perhaps it's everyone else around him that has a need.
Won't someone please leave a shirt at the station for this poor man to find? Obviously he cannot afford sleeves - and judging by the towel around his neck he is a sweaty fellow as well, though luckily I was too far away to find out whether he was too poor for deoderant.


  1. Fascinating! Who'd have thought people could be so generous, whether it be accidental or intentional?

  2. I haven't seen a ton of this, but I will continue to document street charity as I find it.