The doorway of American Express

Each morning I pass,
And he is there,
He gathers the remnants of his life,
In to the carrier bags he packs,
Shuffling with bones of a man more advanced than years, Coughing and spluttering last nights damp from his chest, His bed of cardboard and yesterday’s news,
Neatly folded and tucked under his arm, And off to wanders these gold paved streets of London Town, Looking for his continued survival, Flotsam and jetsam, Leftovers of our exuberant lifestyle, or so it would seems to him, Eyes bigger than his belly is a dream come true,
And when his wandering day is done he returns,
To his little piece of heaven, Tired from his days struggles, Bones ache a little more, Coughs a little worse,
But still,
Invisible to us,
Not wanting to see how this other half live,
Our fall from grace breathes inches away from our lives,
All that separates us from him is less than we think, But as simple as we know,
One wrong turn, one indiscretion. One too many flirty glances or lunch time liveners,
Oh and how we would fall, our lives tumble upon us. To be crushed beneath,
But come this morning,
No sign of life,
He lies there stiff and cold,
Sleeping the eternal sleep,
His escape from this pain he found,
And guilt pangs our hearts,
But is he now not the lucky one, with his struggles done.

This came to me as a memory from working in Holborn, London. I was working for a well know communications company. Our kitchen window looked out on to a side street, with a good view of the main road as well. We could see the doorway of the American Express offices, and in this doorway a homeless guy would sleep every night. We never got to know him, as you dont, but we would see him wandering off down the road with his life tucked under his arm, and sometime after we had gone home for the evening, he would return.

One cold winters day, some time during the morning we saw an ambulance, and a lot of attention, we guessed he must have frozen to death over night, but then he was not living a healthy lifestyle, it could have been anything. That was the bare bones of it, I did rebuke a young chef for slagging him off, telling him we are one missed step away from him and we should never assume life will always look upon us favourably. You never know when or if your life will be turned upside down.

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