I invited two homeless men into my dorm hall
It was cold and I thought they could use a hot shower, but my RA caught me
Walking down Easton Avenue in the late November weather: it’s cold, it’s dark by 7 p.m., and my skin started burning from the cold due to not packing enough clothes for the semester. I, however, had the comfort of knowing I could return to Demarest Hall for a hot shower and proper insulation. When I was making my way back to the dorm, that’s when I saw Joe and Glenn, two homeless people right in front of Edo Sushi restaurant, begging for money with backpacks as big as the one I used when I had to backpack through Europe for a month and a half. After buying them food, I learned about their lives a bit. Joe was homeless due to a nasty divorce that ruined his business and left him penniless. Glenn was homeless due to family deaths and being unable to find support or a job. Their stories moved me, and when I told them I had to go home, I didn’t think I’d see them again. Boy was I wrong.
In the same week, it was a bit earlier, but still dark and ridiculously cold. I saw them in the same place, with the same clothes and the same sign begging for money. That’s when I had the bright idea to bring them to Demarest Hall to spend the night and take a hot shower. Needless to say, it didn’t go so well.
I walked into the hall with them behind me, and when my RA saw me with them and questioned me, I told him they were my uncles. However, I’m Asian and both of these men were Caucasian. I brought them down to the Demarest painting room, where I thought they could crash for the night, but to get to this room, I had to pass the Demarest lounge. The students were all looking at me – puzzled and confused I’m sure. Word spread quickly to the floor I lived on, and I don’t blame them for thinking I was reckless.
Joe ended up shaving and getting a hot shower, while I had to wait with Glenn. Glenn told me furiously how he didn’t like the fact that I had to be with them while in the dorm, and that he was a grown man at 60 who didn’t need to be babysat. After a conversation with him blaming me for not thinking things through, he decided to go downstairs to shave, and I checked on Joe. When I was making my way to the shower, my RA and my hall director stopped me. She told me that I was coming from a good place, but no matter how good the nature of this action was, the students living here were scared. I agreed, and within two hours, I had to tell both Joe and Glenn to leave.
While I apologized, Glenn told me how I was immature for telling them to come over. The last thing I said to them was, “I hope you guys find what you are looking for,” and walked back to my dorm.
While I was walking back, Glenn turned around and yelled to me – and I remember this because it was so surprising – “You were wrong! And all of those little shits you call your RA’s are wrong too!”
Looking back, it was a stupid decision. I was nearing 20 years old and it was a naive thing for me to do. When I asked my other friend about the event, she responded, “I understood why you did it. It was an act of pure kindness, and I also wished that we lived in a world where it was an okay thing for you to have done because everyone was that trustworthy, but the fact of the matter was that you brought two people that you didn’t really even know into our house where we walk around in our towels to get to the showers.”
Lesson learned. No good deed goes unpunished.