Encounter for Empathy Intervention

By Joclynn Ransom

On Thursday night at the weekly farmer’s market, I was with two of my friends and we were looking for a good time. My friends are also my roommates. We spent one or two hours there and had a great time. But as we were leaving, things started to shift after I said something that happened to be offensive. I was contemplating a homeless man on Higuera street. He was sitting in front of the fancy entrance into the part of downtown where Sephora and Chronic Tacos are. I have seen the same guy there before and he does not say anything to you or bother you in any way. So in a stuttering fashion I said that he does not appear to be on any drugs and presents himself on the street in a civil and calm manner. One of my friends quickly jumped to conclusions and with her voice raised said that not everyone on the street looks like a bum or does drugs. I continued to say from my experiences in San Francisco that the homeless are very interactive and appear like they are on drugs or actually do it right in front of you. Also, that I used to work with the homeless in San Francisco. In response she commented that is like saying racist jokes just because you have a black friend. She continued with anger and claimed what I said as disrespectful and rude. After the whole argument I asked for a compromise but she said no. All in all I ended up apologizing after a day. This may be a bad example but I did empathize with her standpoint that I could have appeared rude. She has not told me nor have I asked about her past before. As well as her not knowing about mine. And even though  I had a list of reasons and arguments I could announced about why I made that observation, I said no more because I sympathized I may have hit a sensitive subject.


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