A few years ago, living in Palm Bay, I had no problem making friends. People gravitated toward me. It was a long before I knew why, but what I was told was something I didn’t expect. Whenever I asked people why everyone liked me so much, I always got the same answer, “Because you’re you!”. The last time I visited my friends there, I had Kendall with me, and he asked one of my closer friends why everyone liked me so much. She said that the reason was that, no matter what was going on in my life, I always made time for everyone else and made sure they were happy before I did anything for myself. I had never actually thought about it, but she was right. I always made sure everyone else was happy. I punished people who were bad for the people around them.
One instance I remember very well, there was a library where I used to spend my days when I was homeless. I had a job at the time, but the paychecks were paltry at best. On my days off, the library and the shopping plaza next door were my kingdom. There was one boy, about twelve or thirteen at the time, who did not understand that I took care of the area and the people in it. On this day, he had a bag of cereal. While he ate, he would randomly throw handfuls at people and birds. After warning him several times to stop, to no avail, I grabbed his shirt and pulled him away from the library doors where he was standing to the center of the courtyard in front of the building. There, I told him in a loud and clear voice that he was not to make a mess of the area nor bother anyone there again. I told him if he did, I would make sure to let everyone know that he wasn’t allowed back into the area. Sure enough, he kept making a mess. I informed the security guard, who called the police. He was escorted from the premises and taken home. Two weeks later, he tried to come back to hang out at the library. Nobody would speak to him and even shop owners wouldn’t sell to him. I had told everyone what had happened and they had agreed to keep him away.
Months later, I had moved away, but had come back for a visit. While I was visiting a friend, another friend ran up to me, crying, with a phone in her hand. Covering the microphone, she hurriedly told me that her brother had run away and was threatening to kill himself. After hours of trying to make contact with him, he finally answered his phone, and she came to me for help because she didn’t trust anyone else to talk him into coming home unharmed. For a moment, I didn’t know what to do. I had just met this young lady the day before, and couldn’t even remember her name. So, I took the phone. Note this: five minutes before, my friend with whom I was staying had been attacked in his home. The door had been broken in and he had been beaten, badly. I told two people to take care of my friend, clean and bandage his wounds, and two more people to watch the door. While they took care of my friend and watched out for the attackers, I got on the phone. The boy told me he had a gun, loaded and aimed at his temple. For proof, he cocked the gun into the microphone on the phone. I asked him what was going on. He told me that his life had fallen apart and that there was no way he could fix everything. I asked him for details, to tell me exactly why he had a gun aimed at his head. With no hesitation, he told me that I wasn’t worth his last few moments. Keeping calm, I asked him again. I never once asked him not to do anything “stupid”, but asked him why, in detail, he wanted to end it all. He told me everything. After a few minutes, he started to cry. Once he started to cry, I asked him what exactly was on his mind. What, aside from what led him to that position, was he thinking of. Before he could answer, I asked him to think of his mother and his sister. I told him that I had met them both the day before and that the both of them were very worried about him. I said that his mother was a very nice lady who cared for him very much and wanted nothing bad to ever happen to him, and so was his sister. Once I had finished, he told me he was unloading the gun and throwing the bullets over the edge of the bridge on which he was standing. A moment later, I heard a faint splash in the water and asked what it was. He told me he threw not only the bullets, but the gun, too, and that he was going home. I said goodbye and handed the phone back to his sister. I told her he would be fine and that he was on his way home. She said I was her hero, that I had saved her brothers life! I told her not to thank me, but to go home and wait for her brother. She left and I saw her again two days later with her brother and mother just before I left to go back home. All of them gave me hugs and thanks with such enthusiasm I couldn’t believe.
I did everything I could for all of my friends and the areas I lived in. No matter what, I made sure everything was right.
But still, I find myself asking why I have no friends here in Australia. I still live by the same code by which I have always lived, loving those who need it, and giving kindness to those who have none. So why don’t I have any real friends here? Everyone wants something from everyone else that no one is willing to give. Sympathy is a dirty word here, when that’s all somebody needs most of the time. Yes, there’s a huge difference between giving sympathy to someone who needs a shoulder on which to cry and someone who just loves the attention, but it seems like nobody understands the difference here. Everyone thinks that everyone else just wants attention and should do nothing but buck up and keep going. It’s not right, and it’s not fair to the people who really need nothing more than a friendly ear once in while.