Oh, the smell!

It hit my nostrils the second I opened my apartment door. The hallway was inundated with a rancor the likes of flesh-eating athlete’s foot. I stepped into the hall and saw a pair of feet on the floor. A sensible source. But these feet were attached to a gentleman sleeping on the floor. A smelly, sleeping homeless guy.

Now what? First, I locked the door. Then I checked it twice. Smart. I fled to the better ventilated but colder outdoors. How the hell did he get in there? I checked the exterior door – locked. I remembered the landlord saying something about three recent homeless person incidents on the fourth floor. But not on my floor. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen on the third floor.

Besides, this is supposed to be a nice little top-of-the-hill apartment building. My mom would have a breakdown if she heard about this. Please don’t tell her. I’m taking enough risk as it is. God forbid she tells my grandma in New York.

So what choice did I have? I called the police (on the way to lab, of course). Then I left the landlord a message and made sure to include that the stove also needs repairing. I assumed that the homeless problem would be easy enough to fix. I’m still waiting on the stove.

A week later, I forgot all about the homeless purging. That morning in the middle of my Cap’n Crunch-ing, I heard voices outside the door. Was I finally losing it? I knew I had a few screws loose (what can I say, I needed the bolts) but figured I ought to investigate before coming to any rash conclusions. I peered into the hallway and came upon not one but two sleeping homeless guys. I imagined the smell of alcohol. Maybe that’s why their feet didn’t smell quite as bad as last time.

What do I do now? Should I give them a sandwich? No, too early. A breakfast sandwich, perhaps – something on an English muffin? Maybe they could stick around. No reason to evict them; I hardly use the hall anyway. It could be a whole social project. Be a revolutionary, man. The other tenants and I could fit a dozen homeless guys in the hall and still not trip over them. And I know from biopsychology lecture that we wouldn’t notice the smell after a few weeks. It’s science.

Am I, crazy? Safety first, pal. You don’t know who these people are. It might be unfair to kick them out, but it’s just not safe to have them here. Even if these two men are perfectly nice people, the next one you let stick around could really harm someone. Imagine how you’d feel then, smarty-pants.

They could be mentally disturbed, too. But even if I did have a doctorate in psychology it’s not like I could just whip out a prescription pad and help them. Not that a prescription would do any good since they’d never get it filled. Don’t be a hero. Do what that nagging mother-knows-best voice tells you. It speaks with a Bronx accent so it must know what it’s talking about. So, what can I say. I called the police before my cereal got soggy.

A knock at the building door. With one foot still firmly planted in my apartment, I pushed the door open and leaned across the hallway corner.

“Hey buddy, how’d you get in here?” The officer’s speech was only half-friendly. I heard a moan.

“We got to go?”

“Yeah, you sure do!” Cheery enough. OK, problem solved. I packed my bag and scurried out unnoticed, barely looking at them on the way out. Did they know it was me? Doesn’t matter, I did the right thing . right?

The last time I excised a homeless guy it was unseasonably warm outside. But this time, when the door opened, an unforgiving chill hit me right in the chest.

I saw the condensed cloud of exasperation leave my lips. It’s true. They were warm and secure and I went out of my way to screw over the disadvantaged. That’s where the logic breaks down.

“Well, I’m sure there’s someplace they can go.”

I couldn’t think of any.

Gavin Stern is an LSA junior and a member of the Daily’s editorial board.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.