Imagine Being Homeless Tonight
I sat around Sunday night refreshing my browser and waiting for the message that Upper Arlington Schools would be closed on Monday due to the sub-zero freezing weather. I thought to myself there was no way they’d let these kids stand out in the cold waiting at the bus stop. The new superintendent has to feel the same way.
Chris Bradley over at Channel 10 has been broadcasting that it’s going to be freezing cold tonight, subzero weather when you factor in the wind chill. Frankly, it’s been cold for the past few days. I’ve been worried sick every time my dog goes outside that someone’s going to forget he’s out there and be stuck out in the cold too long. I’ve been standing by the door watching him, which is rather distracting for him. He’s looking at me and hoping I throw something he could run and catch instead of doing his business. I don’t blame him. I can’t pee when people are watching, either.
I refresh my browser again. Columbus and Delaware schools are closed, but no word on Upper Arlington. I check weather.com and discover that with the wind chill is going to drop down to single digits tonight.
It’s going to be wacko cold. Thank God in heaven I have a roof over my head. Could you imagine what it’s like to be stuck out in the freezing weather tonight? With a quick internet search I learn there’s a just a handful of homeless shelters here in Columbus and a phone number you can call for help. There are two shelters for men, two for women, one for families, and one for youth. That’s it. Six places they can choose from. And a phone number that might lead to more resources, as if there’s a pay phone on every corner that they can use.
On the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless website, there’s something called a “street card” which I can only assume the assistance centers print out and hand to the people who need help. It lists locations that people can get food, shelter, and other services. I can’t even begin to understand how hard it would be to simply survive through tonight. They don’t have an Internet to search for the closest shelter, nor an iPhone they can ask Siri to call or find a homeless shelter.
A half an hour ago I was grumpier than all hell. I was going to be stuck in my living room, miserably surfing the Internet trying to find something interesting to read while my wife was absorbed into Downton Abbey. With a simple thought about the homeless, my mood has changed. I’m grateful to have a house over my head, heat, and electricity. As well as a blanket to snuggle up with my wife on the couch.
My phone buzzes and I get a text from UA schools. They are closed tomorrow. I’m going to go tell my kids who are already tucked into bed and let them know the good news. I’ll most likely kiss them on the forehead and tell them I love them, too. Then, tonight, before I get into bed. I’m going to say a little prayer for those who are much more unfortunate than I am. And hope they make it through the night safely.
Wal Ozello is the author of Assignment 1989: The Time Travel Wars and is the lead singer of the Columbus hairband Armada. He's a resident of Upper Arlington, Ohio and a frequent customer at Colin's Coffee. You can help a number of homeless support organization by visiting the Columbus Community Shelter Board or clicking here.