Dirty Smelly Bums: A Tongue-in-Cheek Look at...

Bums sure are smelly and dirty. I'm talking about vagrants of course (what else did you think this post was about?), but I suppose that:
  • If you have to beg to hundreds of strangers just to be able to afford that morning cup of joe that’ll supply the energy allowing you to beg to hundreds more so you can get drunk on Lysol, getting a haircut may not be on your ‘to do’ list;
  • If the thought of my mundane, morning shower has the same arousing effect on you as the thought of owning a 911 Turbo has on me, then being clean certainly isn’t in the ‘doable’ file;
  • If taking advantage of great specials on groceries is synonymous with hitting the jackpot in a restaurant’s garbage container, chances are you don’t even own a toothbrush and you’ve probably eaten all of the toothpaste anyway…
And if you’ve ever been mildly depressed and as a consequence spent an entire week in the same sweat pants because getting dressed just seemed like a routinely futile task in a piece-of-shit, overly-demanding and unforgiving world, then you may have an inkling as to why bums scoff at fashion trends.
Yet how can they help their cause when their funky smells and mismatched appearances act as insurmountable barriers to your generous efforts to treat these city-dwellers like humans?! Obviously, bums need our help.
Simple actions YOU can do to help out in your city:
As you wait for the government or some non-profit group to start up a ‘Febreeze for the Homeless’ initiative or to develop a program that redistributes those magazine perfume samples and your ‘slightly-used’ coordinated ensembles to the streets, here are a few things that you can do to help them help you address your air quality and aesthetic concerns:
  1. Keeping bums out of our garbage keeps our garbage areas tidy and our bums clean. You can help bums stay out of our garbage bags and retain their just-out-of-the-shelter sparkle longer by:

    a. Offering them that perfectly good food you’re about to toss in the trash.

    b. Placing refundable cans and bottles (others should be recycled) on ground next to trash cans or leaving them in clearly visible yet out-of-the-way public spots; they’ll quickly get picked up and sold so you’re not polluting. The more entrepreneurial bums see the value in every nickel, the reward in every dime, and exaltation in every 20 cents that each of these bottles represent, so think of it as your show of support to the bottom-feeding, un-unionized and highly abused employees of the increasingly competitive empty-cans-and-bottles industry. Instead of scrunching up your pop can (rendering it valueless) and tossing it in the trash (or in water, fields, alleys…), why not offer it to some bum? And yes, I have heard that practicing the art of beer bottle smashing produces orgasm-like affects on the brains of drunk morons; however, bums and bleeding-heart tree-huggers wish to remind you that masturbation still represents the more economically and socially responsible, earth-friendly option.

    c. Don’t destroy cardboard boxes before discarding them; fold them flat so they don’t get damaged and try to keep them separate from the rest of your garbage. Studies have shown that bums who have access to cardboard boxes have an easier time building shelters, making blankets, and keeping their squatting hole organized.

    d.If you’re a smoker, offer bums (that smoke) a couple of cigarettes… Trust me; giving 3 to 5 cigarettes gets you the same reaction as handing over a hand-full of quarters so you’ll still be able to feel good about yourself. And this way, they won't be smoking whatever discarded, potential hepatitis-carrying butt that's lying around anyway, right? so at least you’re helping them stay clean by keeping them out of gutters, and public ashtrays, and garbage cans; also, you or others like you won’t have to suffer through that nauseating, sidewalk-licking image that invades your thoughts each time you watch a bum light a twisted, gnarled butt he just picked up in front of a busy subway station.
  2. Instead of giving a ‘Loonie to a loony,’ why not: ‘waterless soap to a homeless dope’? The dollar store sells a convenient travel-sized format that doesn’t demand too much effort for you to carry and offer to some bum. And, since you can’t trust a bum to manage that dollar efficiently, this is the kind of wise, conservative and responsible strategy that will guarantee a higher ROI out of that tightly-budgeted humanitarian-aid buck. So don’t pay attention to any of the swears your kind action may reap; if bums weren’t bums surely they would be able to see that in the grand scheme of things, keeping flu germs off of the hands of rail-and-door-touching bums is a great service to society. Plus, what bums probably don’t know is that most brands of waterless soap now include a skin moisturiser. (note: avoid buying the alcohol-based brands)
  3. Instead of recycling all your small plastic bottles, why not fill them up with some Windex and give them to Squeegee Punks (SPs). Using that disgusting gutter water to clean windshields can’t be good. Providing Windex to these types of bums is yet another example of how a small, inexpensive act can have a major impact on the overall quality of city life; actually having this required tool when practising their chosen trade helps SPs regain a certain sense of pride by allowing them to feel and act more professionally. And professional looking SPs have been known to have a less negative impact on property values… Further, paying for cleaner windows and actually getting cleaner windows will be a welcomed change in many people’s lives.
  4. Hold your breath, refrain from passing judgement, try to understand, and treat a bum like any other decent human being. This free method guarantees the best long-term results; however, since this kind of activism rarely offers more than a stained smile as an immediate payback and because feelings of self-gratification are not evident, this selfless act seems to be avoided by all but the highly dedicated hardcore humanists with boot-camp training in compassion-tactics. Another hindrance to this approach is its reliance on a profound understanding of very complex metaphysical and philosophical theories which state that: ‘bums aren’t society’s rejects; they’re an inescapable and unfortunate product of our societies.’ Another key view is the idea that being a bum is not an after affect of laziness or a deliberate choice; it is the eventual outcome of many variables; one wakes up one morning and realizes that that’s what they’ve become… And this realization, that one is now reduced to a life of anonymity heavily dictated by harsh taboos and stigmas, crushes down so hard on these already defeated souls that regaining any ‘real’ (i.e. acceptable) lifestyle now takes on the same allure that climbing Mt. Everest barefoot has for us ‘regular’ folks. At that point, society at large facilitates cowering into addictions and other forms of alienations by refusing to serve up the copious and reassuring, ‘humanity-is-worth-it’ pats on the shoulder that these people actually need. In the AA jargon, we’re all enablers. This action is all about not being an enabler.
So, yes; bums smell bad, they look ugly, they sure are dirty, and the earth is round and birds fly… And all people are people.
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© 2009, Pascal-Denis Lussier

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