Homeless men and Compliments

I love wearing my traditional/African clothes during summer, though I also wear them during mild winters.  I was wearing one such attire one day while still based in DC and decided to go for a walk around my office neighborhood.  It just happened that I was the only pedestrian around and I passed by some homeless men who were sitting in the park.  One of them called out “Excuse me, miss.”  I knew I was the only person around, so I hurried up to put as much distance as possible between them and me.  I was afraid of them because they looked rough.

I had a lovely walk and I had to pass by the homeless men on my way back to the office.  I had forgotten all about them and was minding my own business when one of them ran straight to me and called out again “Excuse me, miss”.  There were other people around but I suspected that he was talking to me, so I picked up my pace again.  The guy panted after me and said “We just wanted to tell you that you are looking pretty in your traditional dress.  We do not want anything else”.  I was embarrassed at having thought the worst about them so I stopped and thanked the man for the compliment.

It is so easy to judge a book by its cover sometimes, isn’t it?  I had thought that the men would attack me all because they are homeless.  This reminded me once again that I can we wrong in my impressions of people and that I sometimes have to let people say what they have to say.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tiny
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 22:31:28

    I’d love to see you in your Zambian outfit! I’m sure you looked gorgeous. I had one too, but can’t fit in it anymore.


  2. Bill
    Dec 03, 2015 @ 14:32:12

    Lovely story. A few years ago I spent a couple of months hanging out with homeless and desperately poor people a couple of afternoons every week. It was really eye-opening to learn how “normal” they were. Many had some form of addiction or mental illness (which accounted for their homelessness) but it was possible to carry on a perfectly normal conversation over the same kinds of things we all talk about–weather, politics, current events, memories of the past, etc. It’s important to be vigilant and careful (especially so for women, sadly) but your experience reminds me of what I learned. Important to keep in mind too.


    • Zambian Lady
      Dec 03, 2015 @ 14:48:25

      It is true – being homeless does not necessarily equal a crazy person. I learnt that on that day. I have never interacted with a homeless person who lives on the streets, so I expected something scary from them.


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