So an interesting thing happened on my way back from Truro.
I’d quickly hopped on the train to go meet a guy in the Sainsburys car park and do some dodgy dealings for an Xbox One I’d found on eBay.
Got it for £194, rather than the store price of £299. What. a. steal!
Anyway, that’s not important, I just wanted to brag.
En route to the station I walked past two men having a chat. One of whom looked a little worse for wear. I thought nothing on it and went about my journey.
About 45 minutes later, I was back in Penryn, where one of the previous gentlemen said something to the two girls in front of me. They looked prim and proper, clad in fancy coats and quickly hurried away at his gestures and words.
I removed my headphones as he turned to me. All he wanted was a cigarette. Stopping to actually converse with him, it became all-too-obvious that he was homeless. I passed him the cig that I had just rolled, whilst rolling another one for myself.
As I sat down to smoke with him, he began telling me his story.
Some weeks before, his wife had broken up with him, leaving him penniless and out on the streets. He had taken refuge at the station with naught but some sleeping bags and some clothes.
Only to have said sleeping bags removed from his stash and thrown away by the railway workers.
Things weren’t going well for Brian.
But things took a lighter turn when he told me about the days leading up to Christmas. Having sat there, a lone sentinel of the station, Brian had begun chatting to many of the people who passed his makeshift abode, much like he had with me.
Apart from his wife purposefully waking him up at about half six every morning on her way to work, he had been treated well by these other passers-by.
They had bought him flasks of tea, small bits of alcohol, and foodstuffs; when I was sitting next to him he had besides him a plate of macaroni cheese. Not going to lie, kinda jealous, I love mac’n’cheese, but I shouldn’t complain.
His new friendships had grown to such an extent that one kind occupant of the town even had her children wrap him Christmas presents, which they would deliver along with a bottle of whiskey in the days to come (the bottle of whiskey might actually have been from someone else, I have the memory of a sieve). Furthermore, he had been promised four different Christmas dinners! I would call him a lucky bastard, but you know, homeless and all.
But it gets better.
To add to his happiness, an encounter with the police earlier today had informed him that not only were they okay with him staying there, but they were getting close to locating his sister in Scotland, and that he may well be able to travel home tomorrow for Christmas.
In true Scottish style, he was celebrating with a flask of cider.
Unfortunately, all I had on me was the Xbox, so I couldn’t really help in any meaningful way. Until he told me that the reason he had been sitting on those steps for so long was because he was dying for that aforementioned cigarette.
Huzzah! A chance to help. I rolled him as many cigarettes as I had filters on me and gifted him with my lighter, so I could hear more of his story and help in any way I could (which, unfortunately, wasn’t much).
He continued, telling me how he had got his black eye (which was bloody huge, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to handle such pain, but then again, I’m not Scottish), his thoughts on the Xbox and just how much he was actually enjoying the company of the townsfolk.
I just thought it was worth mentioning, because I found it rather touching. Christmas miracles and all that. Mostly because I don’t really give two shits about Christmas myself, but I’m glad such a turnaround can happen for someone who was so in need.
If all goes well, he’s due to be heading off tomorrow. I may go check his progress, have another chat.
Until then, good luck Brian. If I was a religious man (Dudeism aside), you’d be in my prayers.
Oh, and FYI, I didn’t just dub him the ‘Christmas hobo’, he calls himself that, with a laugh no less. What a guy.
So Merry Christmas to everyone, I guess? That’s a good note to end on, right?
Good. Have a Happy New Year as well.