College students Chuck Chichester and Delilah Wright glanced uneasily at each other Friday as their attempt to engage a homeless man in a friendly verbal exchange developed into a full-blown social interaction which threatened to spiral totally out of their control. The interaction began when the Homeless Man approached the students asking for change, and Wright offered a dollar, cheerfully saying that she hoped that would help him. Unexpectedly, the Homeless Man replied to this sentiment, beginning a five-minute speech about his recent past and future ambitions at which Chichester and Wright nodded politely without really listening.
“That was really creepy,” said Chichester of his experience of speaking to a very dirty man. “I was kind of afraid he was going to rob us or something. Or worse, that he really wanted us to be his friend.”
Wright, though initally disturbed, had good feelings about the encounter afterward. “Come on,” she stated, “He probably doesn’t get to really talk to anyone, all day long. Sometimes it just makes you feel good to do something nice for someone, like pretending to listen to them when no one else will.”