Whenever I walk to or from work, I typically turn my brain on autopilot and set my legs to one course: the train station home. My eyes stare forward at my distant destination, and nothing diverts my attention, save for the occasional attractive woman or the aforementioned homeless man.
It took me several walks to and from work to realize that the homeless man wasn't there anymore. No more partially toothless shouting, no more layers upon layers of clothes, even in warm weather. I started to wonder if he had moved to somewhere with better shelter, or perhaps he had died. That was the sad thought: if this man was actually dead, then he likely died without anyone knowing his name.
And I started to wonder about him. He was someone's son; maybe he was a brother. Maybe he had a father, maybe he had a mother, maybe he was an uncle, maybe he had a cousin. Maybe he had friends; maybe they stole a Playboy and saw their first naked women together. Maybe they knew his name. Maybe he grew up in a house where life wasn't easy and circumstances were drawn against him. Maybe he made some bad choices; maybe he made some good ones. Maybe he once marveled at the simplicity of rain, maybe he once wondered about how cars worked. Maybe he went to school. Maybe he was enjoyed at it, maybe he didn't. Maybe he never wanted to admit that he enjoyed it; maybe he thought he could do something else with his life. Maybe he fell in love; maybe he had his heart broken. Maybe he made a mistake; maybe he lost everything. Maybe he was a genius who lost his mind. Maybe he had regrets. Maybe he didn't realize he had regrets. Maybe his friends forgot him. Maybe his family was gone. Maybe he never knew it.