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Nashville, TN – After selling my business in 2012, I bought a condo in Nashville. My wife and I spend time there enjoying football, hockey, good food and entertainment.
I spend more time here than she does, developing new business relationships, and reconnecting with old friends.
The Nashville landscape is growing in leaps and bounds,and that includes a growing homeless population. And I mean GROWING. And aggressive.
I don’t know what your opinion is on the homeless and this is not what this column is about, but for me personally, I think it’s embarrassing that we live in the greatest country in the world, and we have human beings who have nowhere to go and nothing to do and they just wander the streets.
The problem is not as noticeable in Clarksville as it is in Nashville, but here, they’re everywhere.
You will see them on every corner selling those newspapers. They’re in every park, walking every street and alley. They literally have nowhere to go. Think about that.
What if it was you?
It hurts my heart that this problem exists. I have compassion for the homeless. I don’t know what to do about it, but I don’t want to “hate” them because of their situation, and I don’t want to feel threatened by them, but this is a major problem for all of us.
And that leads me to this true story.
After living here for close to two years, I’ve gotten used to the homeless and how to deal with them. I’ve even gotten familiar with a few of them that I see on a daily basis. I’ve had conversations with a couple of men who desperately want to get out of “the life,” but can’t seem to catch a break.
Most people have a very negative view of the homeless. They think they’re all drug addicts, or alcoholics, or just plain “crazy.” So whatever your opinion, you’re entitled.
In Nashville, most people just ignore them. Never making eye contact, never acknowledging them, side-stepping them, or just saying, “no thanks.”
Last week, I made the mistake of confronting a man who was harassing my wife and I. He was homeless, drunk and he wanted to go to jail
I obliged. And it cost me.
As we were making our way towards Broadway, the man first approached my wife and I yelled, “Dude!” hoping to get his attention.
He turned to me and walked right into me, face to face, chest to chest and I said, “Man, you need to step off!”
It happened so fast, I wasn’t sure what just happened, but when I shook the cobwebs out, I thought, “Damn, he just punched me in the face!”
I was so shocked, I didn’t have time to feel the pain.
So I gathered myself, and took off up the street after him, but my wife stopped me because I was bleeding from the nose and to be honest, I don’t know what I thought I was going to do. Probably get hurt even worse.
After calling 911, the man was arrested and taken to jail. I had press charges before they would arrest him (not sure I understand that one).
So I’m pressing charges and I will follow the process. Maybe he will get sober in jail. Maybe he will realize it’s time to try and turn his life around.
I’m not that optimistic.
My point of sharing this story is not to elicit any sympathy, or to draw any attention to myself, but to simply share this experience so others will learn, that no matter how “big and bad” you think you are, you shouldn’t confront a person who has nothing to lose, and thinks spending time in jail is paradise. (I can just hear some of you saying, “Hell, I wish he had done that to me!)
It could have been worse. He could have had a knife, or something else. He didn’t care.
So, the mistake was all mine. I let my ego get in the way of good common sense. I should have just sidestepped the guy and kept on going, but no, I had to act like a bad-ass, and it cost me.
I don’t blame this guy because he was doing the only thing he knew how to do, and that was to get arrested and go to jail. These people are just trying to survive, anyway they can.
So until society has had enough, the homeless population will continue to grow, and innocent people will be hurt, or maybe worse.
Just my two cents.
Hank Bonecutter is a retired broadcaster and media consultant based in Clarksville, Tennessee.
His career includes stints at WKDA/WKDF and WKQB Rock 106FM, WLAC-AM in Nashville.
He concluded his career as owner/talk show host at WJZM-AM in Clarksville.
Currently the President of Bonehead Promotions, he’s an advertising consultant and media strategist.
TopicsAssault, Drug Addiction, Homelessness, Nashville, Night Court, Panhandling
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