Last night on my way to pick up Tom at the bus park-and-ride, I passed a woman holding a tiny infant girl, with two small boys walking behind her. She was carrying a tattered diaper bag in her free hand, and looked tired. None of them were dressed for the weather (at least 40F) and one of the little boys seemed to have on only a windbreaker over boxers, and the other did not have on shoes. I was not in the right lane to pull over, and when I pulled back around they were down an ally, and I was late to pick up Tom. I didn’t have any cash on me, or even a diaper bag with extra clothes. I drove by, rationalizing that I did not have an extra car-seat for the baby, and besides Ella was finally asleep.
It’s easy to distance ourselves from poverty, when we are warm, and full, and we know that no matter what we will not be abandoned tomorrow. It’s easy to get caught up in the wants, the ridiculous class envy, the trivial little bumps in the road. It’s easy to imagine that true poverty only exists in far away places, not in your pipsqueak city in the bleeding-heart northwest. It’s easy to look away. It’s easy to drive by.
It’s hard to sleep, wondering if those kids are warm.