Can We Help this Man?

Dear Editor,
If you shop at Nob Hill in Gilroy, it’s likely that you’ve seen
the

garbage can guy.

He’s the guy in dirty clothes who eats out of the McDonalds and
Starbucks trash cans. He has black hair and he literally wears
rags. I think I know him. I think he was in my 5th grade class, and
that his name is

Eddie.

Dear Editor,

If you shop at Nob Hill in Gilroy, it’s likely that you’ve seen the “garbage can guy.” He’s the guy in dirty clothes who eats out of the McDonalds and Starbucks trash cans. He has black hair and he literally wears rags. I think I know him. I think he was in my 5th grade class, and that his name is “Eddie.”

Today I drove through McDonalds and ordered more food than I could eat. My car was loaded full of my husbands old shirts to drop off at a donation trailer. I saw “Eddie” poking through the trash can in the rain, wearing his rag of a shirt and filthy, oversized pants that he continually holds up with one hand.

I wondered how he got that way as I scalded the inside of my mouth on my breakfast burrito. Then I thought about the fact that I had too much food and extra clothes in my car. I pulled over in the parking lot and went to the back of my car to see if I had a coat and shirt that would fit him. There was a suitable shirt and a flannel jacket, but the jacket would be too small. So I took off the jacket that I was wearing, which happened to be a large man’s jacket. I put on the old flannel and gathered up the shirt, jacket and remaining food and doubled back. I wondered why nobody cared about this guy. I know everyone can see him, just as I can. Why does he have to eat trash? Why does he have to be cold? Why hasn’t someone else offered him a jacket? I approached him with these things in my hands. I just wanted him to not be cold and wet. I didn’t want to believe that he chose this life for himself. I wanted him to feel like a human being.

As I approached him, he looked up and saw me coming and we made eye contact. I was wondering what to say. I didn’t have to wonder for very long because he cussed at me, he told me to “stay the F— away from him” and that I didn’t “get it” and some other inaudible mumblings. I simply said “OK” and I walked away. I peeled off the flannel and put my big jacket back on and I ate the extra food. I assumed his brain had turned into jello from drug use or something. I was glad to realize that many people have probably offered him something and received that same resistance. This realization restored my faith in the integrity of our community. Sorry to have doubted any of you, who like me, attempted and failed to reach out to the “garbage can guy”. It never occurred to me that he would reject a dry coat and fresh food.

“Eddie” is right. I don’t “get it.” I can’t grasp how a person becomes like “Eddie.” He obviously needs help and has psychological problems. He does not possess the ability to comprehend that he needs help and in fact it is he that doesn’t “get it.”

I wondered if I should go back again and again until he takes the coat. I wondered if I should ask him if his name really is Eddie. I don’t know if I’m supposed to continue to care about him or not, but his constant presence disturbs me because his existence is so substandard and no one should live like that. Will anyone miss him when one day we realize he hasn’t been seen in a while? I think I will, and I’ll wonder what I could have done… who I could have called. Maybe I’m naive, but I though everyone had someone who cared about them… even if it’s just one person.

Does anyone care about “Eddie, the garbage can guy?” Does anyone know how to help him? I will give what I can to help if someone has a plan.

Lydia Eden Irwin, Gilroy

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