After almost seven years in Chicago, I know who the "regulars" with their paper cups held out for spare change. But lately I have seen some new people--people so new that they don't even know about the paper cup approach. One is a forty-something man, an almost burly type, pushing a little boy in a cheap stroller and almost whispering, "Can you help out a little bit?" Then there is the woman on a corner. She still has an ID badge hanging around her neck. "A little help, please?" And on another corner, a man in one of those industrial-type electric scooters. This one does have a paper cup, but it is held between two toes. He can't reach high enough to shake it in anyone's face, so he just sits there with his outstretched left leg, and the paper cup dangling from his foot.
These are only a few of the people who had been making it, just barely, until now. Even if the newspapers didn't tell me that there was something unfortunate going on in people's lives across the nation, my daily walk to St. Peter's would have made it perfectly clear.