Jul. 26, 2019

The Homeless Man

His name is Alan and he’s homeless. He’s the man who wanders around town with his dog’s kennel in tow. The dog’s name is Levi. Alan has been blasted all over Facebook as of late so I thought I might address his issue.

Alan is disabled. He has a condition that affects him in many ways. As a result of his medical condition, he has a service dog, which is, in fact, registered as an emotional support dog for him. He has the paperwork, the certificate card, the leash, and the service dog vest.

His disability check does not afford him enough money for rent, lights & water, and groceries, etc so, he’s homeless. He gets just enough to eat off fast food joints and feed his dog. I admire that he refuses to be a burden to anyone and prefers to care for himself.

After talking to him, I realized that he lacks the trust more than anything to comprehend a lot of things. For instance, he was told he should keep Levi on the same dog food and not switch brands otherwise, the dog could suffer intestinal problems. Whoever he got Levi from had been giving him Rachel Ray dog food. That’s why Alan will only feed him Rachel Ray.

Likewise with his disability check. The Social Security Administration told him that he was not allowed to work on the side and if he did, he would lose his (sole source of) support. People have offered to give him jobs and he refuses.

He does not trust people enough when they say, “It’s okay to work on the sly, you won’t lose your check.”

Alan is convinced people want to harm him by taking his only companion away. In his own words, he feels like people are out to get him – again, he lacks trust.

Currently, he has asked a couple of places for work so that it will be reported to the Social Security Administration, as the law states it should be. I would love to see that happen and encourage businesses in town to give him a chance.

He’s not your garden variety homeless man, either, because Alan does not ever ask anyone for anything. He does not panhandle, he’s not looking for a free-ride, or a handout from anyone, at any time. He just muddles along.

McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell have banned him citing he can’t come in because “he has a dog.” So… I called their headquarters and spoke with their customer relations teams. I explained that although Alan is homeless, he does not ask for free food, bother customers for money or food, and isn’t standing outside making a nuisance of himself. If anything, he sits quietly inside and pays for his own food.

Because the sign on the front says, “No Pets,” he doesn’t bring his dog inside when he is well within his legal rights to do so. Again, trust. The sign says not to, so he won’t.

McDonalds and Burger King called me back and insisted this will be rectified. As I said to them, “I also have a dog; two as a matter-of-fact. Does that mean I can’t go inside anymore, either? Further more, sometimes when I’m just running in for a second, I will leave my dog outside, as well… Is that saying I cannot come inside?”

Both entities stated, “They should have never kicked him out in the first place or banned him because he’s homeless and certainly not because he has a dog.”

Taco Bell insisted they did not want him there (see note below). She was very frank in stating she did not care if they were discriminating against him or breaking any laws against the American Disability Act. That’s basically what is happening, he’s being discriminated against because he is not living as society has decided that he should live.

Levi gives him purpose. Alan has someone to feed, take care of who depends on him, and most importantly, he has someone to love. If anything happened to him what would happen to Levi? If anyone took the dog away then what would happen to Alan? Would he digress even more mentally? Would Levi become devastated by losing the only human and companion, he himself, knows?

If you really want to help him, stop by and say, “Hey, I have an extra… (insert whatever extra you have), would you like it?”

It’s 50-50 whether he’ll even take it (trust), but that shouldn’t stop you from offering then, or even later. Don’t try to do for him. He won’t accept because he will feel that he will have to pay for something he cannot afford. He will politely, but honestly, decline.

Before you point a judgmental finger in his direction, ask yourself those questions, and then ask yourself, what if it were you? The truth is, you don’t know what you’d do in his situation. Alan did not want to grow up and be homeless and for now, he could do with a little humanity from our little town.

I will leave off with this little reminder from the greatest teacher of all time: “He answered and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Luke 3:11

(NOTE) Taco Bell did finally call back. They knew who Alan was and explained the person who told him not to come back inside was a new manager who has since been let go because of her "lack of people skills."