Even though it’s pouring rain, and my cabinets are wet, I’m still reminded that there are so many things to be grateful for. I remember once, about a year ago, there was some event on campus, and I was at this event in the evening. It was pouring rain, and it was dark and cold. There is an underground parking lot where I parked my car on that day, and I walked back to the lot in the cold rain after the event to get my car.
Berkeley has a pretty big homeless population, and often they sleep in the doorways of businesses, and sometimes just right out on the sidewalk, where there are open underground vents through which warm air flows up into the streets. But on this night it was cold and wet everywhere. On this night as I walked down the stairs from the wet and windy atmosphere into the parking garage to retrieve my car, I could feel the immediate change from cold and wet to warm and dry. It’s so comfortable down there… and empty. But at the stairs is a security guard who greeted me as I descended. Now, there is no real reason to have a security guard in this parking garage, because there is nothing down there, so I can only assume that the security guard is there to prevent the homeless population from escaping the wet cold misery to be in the warm dry comfort of that garage!
And it occurred to me then, and even more so now that the wet and cold is more of a present reality for me than it was, that the whole parking garage and security guard scene is a really pathetic statement about social justice – that there is a huge warm dry space underground and empty, and there are freezing cold people who are wet and sleeping on the sidewalk right outside of it…how does that even make sense? How in Hell do we justify that? How can that security guard do her job of keeping those people out of that empty parking garage? It’s the middle of the night! NO ONE IS PARKING THERE! For the love of GOD let people escape the wet and cold for a few hours at least…
Even though my cabinets are wet, I am grateful that my clothing and my bed is dry. Though the air is cold, when I sleep I am warm, and I am grateful for that. Although I have expensive mechanical problems with the Hilton, I do have, or can get the money to fix it, and I’m grateful for that. I have enough food to eat, and I am grateful for that. I have a job that provides insurance and income for me and I am grateful.
There are so many things I could complain about, but at the end of the day, I have a running vehicle, I am warm and dry and safe when I sleep, I have medical care, a job, and enough to eat! It’s not that I didn’t know that I was privileged before, but now that I live in the Hilton, I feel both the privilege and the gratitude more acutely than I ever have before.