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7 Directions to Look When You See a Homeless Person on the Sidewalk

A couple walks past two homeless people.
Careful! You just came close to implying that the life of a homeless person holds some value.

Uh oh! It looks like you're about to pass a homeless person on the sidewalk. Lest you confront your own position of privilege in society, here are some other directions to look: 

Straight Ahead
This one is a classic. It bears all the hallmarks of what to do when you spot a homeless person in your general vicinity: ignoring them; pretending you don’t have peripheral vision; and seeming very determined to get wherever you’re going. No homeless person would judge you for being determined. 

This one works especially well if you’re in a big city with lots of skyscrapers, but could work if your suburb has a water tower. If you’re a creative-type, you could whistle as you walk by with your hands in your pockets. Keep in mind, however, that suddenly looking up could cause people around you to panic and inadvertently catch a terrifying glimpse of a dirty hobo. 

Behind You
You never know what could be behind you, but odds are it isn’t another homeless person! Just pretend you were trying to scratch your back, and you will be spared both the embarrassment of social awkwardness and the unbearable shame of making eye contact with a helpless vagabond.

Left or Right
It’s totally reasonable to check your surroundings every now and then. If you’re already on a street corner, you could kill two birds with one stone by looking both ways!

Down (at your phone)
Send a Tweet. Compose an email. Text your friends about the disgusting one-legged Gulf War veteran, who clearly has no other recourse, begging for money on the sidewalk. No matter what you do, that homeless veteran is likely to think you’re a 21st century businessperson with more important things to do than noticing them.

Down (at the ground)
If you don’t have a phone, consider looking straight down. If there is an empty can nearby, you can kick it down the sidewalk to indicate that you, too, are down on your luck.  

Directly at the homeless person
Fortune favors the bold. Just because you’re looking at a homeless mother of two doesn’t mean she’ll be looking at you!

© 2017