The Spokesman-Review : interns

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sam Taylor: City life

As a post-graduate intern working in the Spokesman-Review's Idaho office, I usually don't have to deal with the insane traffic of Spokane (the big city around here, for those outside of the area). Nor do I have to deal with the personalities that come with a big city for the most part.

Being from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho - where the Idaho office is - we basically get all the luxuries of Spokane 30 miles away without some of the negatives. Our crime rate is lower, our traffic is better and gosh darn it I think it's a lot prettier.

So it's sort of awkward for me when I work a shift in Spokane to be approached by homeless people looking for some money or some food.

In Coeur d'Alene we have a homeless population, but the majority are people that still have jobs and are just down on their luck enough to where they need to live in a shelter or in their cars. They still generally have money to feed themselves (keep in mind this is NOT everyone, but we have a far less visible homeless population in this town of 40,000).

As I worked the Saturday shift, I was firstly irked that I didn't get to eat until 7 p.m. and secondly that I had to foot it over to Riverpark Square Mall for some Subway. On the way back is when I realized how much more fortunate I am and that I need to stop whining.

I saw the man approaching people before he ever came to me. I'll admit it, I even tried to avoid him because I knew he was going to ask me for change or something as well. Sure, I lived in Hollywood once for a summer, but I'm still from a small town and still not used to people coming up to me for things.

When he finally did, I felt quite awkward because I had Subway in hand - drink and all. He didn't ask me for change, he asked me if I could buy him a meal. I was still so nervous, and I feel bad about the only words I could think to utter: "Sorry man, I got nothing."

How embarassing as this man who has nothing comes to me for help, and all I can offer him is blank stares and empty, stupid words.

These are the kinds of things you have to deal with when you're in a larger city, though. If you're from a small town and you come to Spokane you will eventually get used to it. It's an awkward adjustment that even I still am not used to.

And when you're hitting the streets, sulking because an editor made you go do "Man on the Street" interviews for that personal flavor - remember that there are people out there less fortunate than you that would gladly do the same job simply for a bite to eat.


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