One time I saw this guy on the upper west side of manhattan. He had on a stained blue coat. A long, dirty, white beard billowed around him as he pushed a shopping cart, laden with garbage bags. And as I saw him, it hit me that I could be that guy.
I didn't know him. I didn't know if he drank, or did drugs, or was mentally ill. Or if he simply gave up on modern society. But if he did- I can understand.
My grandmother, after a lifetime of savings (and reparations for the Holocaust) scrimped together somewhere around thirty thousand dollars- a fortune in eastern Europe. She had visions of diving it equally between her two daughters and three grandsons. It was not to be. Her daughter died of cancer, leaving behind a drunken fool of a widower, a semi-literate anti-Semite whom I once considered beating to a pulp after he told my grandmother that Hitler didn't do enough. He helped raise one son who is a functional alcoholic and another who is blessedly oblivious to his surroundings. And together, they decided to steal every last cent as she lay on her deathbed.
I don't want to be like the guy with the shopping cart. But honestly, I can understand where he might be coming from. We are all mercenaries. Relationships are usually an exchange. Here, if someone speaks to me, chances are better than 2:1 that they want something. Once, when I was talking on gmail messenger, my father asked me "How much time do you spend on that and what do you get out of it?" I don't blame him. It's what's expected.