What Would You Do?

Homeless man with dog in the cold - Copy

By Judy Berman

Public shaming seems to be in vogue, and the homeless are being used to make the point.

In one story making the rounds on social media, an unshaven man in a raggedy coat enters a church. He definitely stands out among the well-dressed folks who gather for worship.

Those who bother to look his way, shun him. Then they turn their attention to a speaker at the lectern who announces that their new pastor is at this service. The speaker invites the pastor to come up and introduce himself.

People gasp when the unshaven man stands and walks down the aisle. He chastises the congreation for not living their faith when they saw someone who appeared to be homeless.

They, of course, are remorseful for their behavior.

I thought of this when I read two other bloggers’ stories about how folks respond when someone falls in a public place.

Jim McKeever’s blog, Irish Investigations, focuses on a video by Modern Pranksers. In it, there are two men on crutches – one well-dressed and the other one appearing to look homeless.

When the well-dressed man falls, people rush to assist him. Not so with the “homeless” man. The only one who helps him is another homeless man. The story is here.

Such pranks, that are played for entertainment on YouTube and on TV shows, “may reinforce people’s aversion to helping someone who looks ‘homeless’ or different in any respect,” Jim says.

I agree. There are better ways to increase awareness about helping others.

Homeless - U. S. Army soldiers - Stand Down for Homelessness

Diana Schwenk’s experience was different. On her blog, Talk to Diana, she wrote about the time that she was the one who fell in the street and no one came to help her. She was confounded and surprised. Her story is here.

“I imagine most homeless folks have felt this way at one time or another,” Diana says. “This is what it must be like to feel invisible.”

Homeless man on Mission St

There have been a few times when I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone to help a stranger. One of them was many years ago, when I first moved to Syracuse, New York.

It was evening. As I strolled along James Street toward State Street, I saw a man fall. His crutches lay next to him.

My first thought was that he had just come from the bar that I had passed.

As I drew closer, I suspected that he was in no condition to cross that heavily traveled four-lane intersection.

So, I helped him up. He staggered as we walked across the street. I supported him as he climbed the steep steps to the entrance of his apartment building. He thanked me, and we parted ways.

I never saw him again, but I think about him often and hope that he’s doing well.

Such acts might be considered foolhardy, given the existence of monsters like Ted Bundy who preyed on kind-hearted women. The serial murderer lured them to help him by feigning an injury.

Looking back, I realize things could have turned out differently.

Still, I’m glad I came to his rescue then.

Would I do the same today? I don’t know.

But, if I do, I want my actions to be driven by a desire to do the right thing and not because I’d be concerned someone might be watching and taping the encounter for a prank video.


Do these types of videos and actions help or hurt the homeless?


Music Video: Angel in Disguise – Songs for the Homeless – The people in this video reveal that homelessness can happen to anyone. There are plenty of worthwhile agencies where you can help.   

Thanks to my angel in disguise, my husband, for taking part in delivering food to homeless shelters and helping at a food kitchen for the homeless. Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.

Link: Jim McKeever’s blog “Irish Investigations” – “Hidden Camera Test of Kindness: Good Idea, but Unfair Prank” https://irishinvestigations.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/hidden-camera-test-of-kindness-good-idea-but-unfair-prank/

Link: Diana Schwenk’s blog “Talk to Diana” – “What it Must Feel Like to be Invisible” https://talktodiana.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/what-it-must-feel-like-to-be-invisible/

Photo: Homeless man and dog in the cold

Photo: Homeless – James Brown, a student nurse at Jacksonville University School of Nursing, takes a homeless veteran’s blood pressure during the annual Stand Down for Homelessness in Savannah. Sept. 15, 2009. Source: U.S. Army http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/03/US_Army_51483_260th_Soldiers_Stand_Down_for_Homelessness.jpg/598px-US_Army_51483_260th_Soldiers_Stand_Down_for_Homelessness.jpg

Photo: Homeless man on Mission Street, San Francisco, California Taken Dec. 27, 2009. Source: Franco Folini http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/18/Homelessmissionst.jpg/554px-Homelessmissionst.jpg

Vanishing Point

By Judy Berman

The bragging rights of a new car – the enviable stares, the admiring glances, the unabashed ogling. That’s now past tense.

Now the point may be not to be seen at all. Of course, that could be a problem in high-traffic areas when you want to avoid a crash.

Mercedes-Benz’ “Invisible” Mercedes F-Cell was put through its paces on the streets of Stuttgart, Germany, this week. This technology is straight out of the James Bond movie, “Die Another Day.”

Bond (played by Pierce Brosnan) is driving an Aston Martin Vanquish which is being hotly pursued in a rapidly-melting ice palace by his foe (Zao). Zao (Rick Yune) aims his Jaguar XKR straight for Bond’s car, which vanishes moments before the intended impact.

“I’m looking through you. Where did you go? I’m looking through you. You’re not the same.” (The Beatles’ “I’m Looking Thru You”)

The F-Cell, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, is being manufactured in limited quantities. But the “Invisible” Mercedes F-Cell, an emission-free car, is still a car of the future.

“While the car isn’t completely invisible, you are just seeing a moving outline because the LED screen is projecting what’s behind it. The effect works best when the scenery behind is uniform, for example, while crossing the bridge in the video (link posted below), and at night when there’s more contrast between light and dark,” according to a story posted by Matthew Humphries on Geek.com.

The “invisibility” is the result of a lot of cameras and flexible LED-mats which can weigh nearly 1,100 pounds at a cost of nearly $263,000.

Is this what Taylor Swift is really singing about in “Invisible,” rather than unrequited love?

“And you just see right through me. But if you only knew me we could be a beautiful miracle, unbelievable. Instead of just invisible, yeah.”

Not to worry,Taylor. You could still be a beautiful pair. You could cruise the streets in a car that the paparazzi would not be able to detect. Perfect!

As for the rest of us who wish for a vanishing point from the maddening crowds, we’ll just have to wait for the price to come down.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Photos of the “Invisible” Mercedes (and a video in Motoramic. Article by Justin Hyde)


* Mercedes article by Matthew Humphries on Geek.com. Includes videos:


* The chase scene from James Bond’s “Die Another Day”:


* Pierce Brosnan who played secret agent James Bond in 4 films from 1995-2002