Kayak Korner & Homeless Him


I signed up for an online Harvard class.

It’s an introduction to computer sciences course called “CS50.”  Apparently, if I successfully pass the course, I will be guaranteed job placement with one of one hundred businesses in the St. Louis area that are partnered with LaunchCode—who is sort of ‘teaching’ the course via public viewings of the lectures at the St. Louis public library and a whole lot of online courseware.

I am failing.

I am an incredibly right-brained, creative minded, ADD, procrastinating type of person. To give you a little insight as to how well I did in school prior to attempting to take a HARVARD course. . . I failed college Algebra and only passed the second time around because I was tutored every single day. I passed, eventually, with a ‘D’. I lost my Sociology double major (got a phone call from the registrar two weeks after graduation) because I passed elementary statistics with a ‘D’. I needed at least a ‘C’ to maintain my major. In high school I failed chemistry and barely passed every math course I took. . . with ‘D’s.

I changed my major five times.

I was supposed to graduate in 3.5 years. Instead, due to withdrawing, failing, withdraw-failing, and re-taking a plethora of courses—I graduated in four, lost my double major, took Jan-term and summer classes and to top it all off. . .

I finished off my senior year of college with a GPA of:

1.94 

And now? Now I am enrolled in a Harvard computer science class.

Of course I am.

When I told my mother about this grand venture she laughed out loud. And so naturally, I decided rather than listen to her advice on how “You would hate that. You would be horrible at that. You hate numbers. And computers. What are you thinking?”—I instead decided to take and pass the class just to prove her wrong.

So now I sit at Kayaks. Drinking St. Louis local Kaldi’s coffee. I count the minutes passing as I watch video after video and attempt to take notes. My page is full of curse words. . . variables, binaries, loops, integers, loops, source code?!!?

But the view is fantastic.

Kind of?

I sit directly in front of a six-by-fifteen foot window facing Forest Park—which by the way—is the biggest city park system in the United States. I see pines. And grass. And to my right are old brick buildings. Beautiful architecture. Surrounding me in the coffee shop are international Washington University students and upper-class white yuppies.

Directly across from me is not just Forest Park. There is something not blocking, but distracting my view.

Homeless Him.

He does not have a name yet, but he will.

He is African-American. He is elderly. And it is 28 degrees outside.

I am staring because I can’t help it. Because as I forced myself to watch endless videos on how to write source code all I could think of was how much I would rather continue to be completely broke if it meant I got to hang out with Homeless Him instead of studying.

There is a Subaru stopped at the light. I see a white, female teenager in the passenger seat. Mom is driving. My immediately judgmental thoughts are as follows,

Of course she won’t even look at him. Of course she won’t give anything. Not money. Not food. Nothing. Not even a glance. Better to ignore the stare. Better to pretend he isn’t there. Damn yuppies.

Homeless Him disappears for a moment. I wonder where he’s gone.

There he is. . . running. . . no—limping—to the Subaru.

And I break.

The Subaru.

Rolls the window down and passes a few dollars. The man thanks the women. Homeless Him. Homeless, Elderly Him. Homeless, Elderly, Disabled Him.

I see another man. Also flying a sign. Also asking for money or food. I am angry with him. Why is he on Homeless Him’s corner? He is competition, you know. So selfish.


Minutes pass.


Homeless Him takes a seat—and Another Man joins him. They pile up there loot. Together. A bag of take-out. A half-empty bag of clementines. A few dollars.



They are in this together. I see that now.