Last week I took some pictures of the stairs I take out of the train station. They're side stairs, more or less, there's an escalator ten meters further. Although I never see any homeless on these stairs, there is plenty of evidence they spend time there during the night. There's the smell of urine and stale beer, the empty beercans, the cigarette butts...
You can see the cigarette butts at the bottom of the stair next to the drain. The piss stains are usually located at the two platforms along the way. It is nicely sheltered in a corner between the station and the convention center next door (there's also a theatre in the building, Dirty Dancing, the musical is due to premiere there in two weeks.)
Sometimes I spot them inside the station, hanging around or selling the homeless newspaper - or at least holding up a copy, but then I figure anyone would get sick of that day in, day out. It's a monthly magazine, so it's not as if you can shout out topical headlines or something like them newspaperboys in the movies.
But mostly I tend to ignore them. Two guys, a guitar and a cap got on the train at Rotterdam Alexander today and started singing something I vaguely, but not quite, recognised. I think it was some reggae song. True to form I smiled politely and shook my head at the one with the cap.
This reminded me of something I watched last night. Episode #1107 of South Park, entitled Night of the Living Homeless (South Park being on heavy rotation on Comedy Central over here), in which the boys suspect a sudden inlux of homeless people was caused by Kyle giving a homeless man $20. As it turns out, it was the people of nearby Evergreen who solved their homeless problem by advertising the virtues of South Park to the homeless.
The homeless first started arriving in Evergreen about three months ago. At first there were only a few of them, asking for change, sleeping in the parks. But then more showed up, and we realized there was something different about them. They fed off of our change to the point that they could actually start renting apartments.
We knew it wouldn't be long before the homeless actually started buying homes, and then we'd have no idea who was homeless and who wasn't! The people living in the house right next door to you could be homeless and you wouldn't even know! Nobody could trust anybody. Fights broke out. War!
That's when I started suspecting that my own wife, who I had been living with for 20 years, was actually homeless, so I had to burn her... in her bed... while she slept. After she died I vowed I wouldn't let the homeless destroy our town, so we came up with a plan to get rid of them once and for all.
The boys then come up with a plan of their own, they modify a bus and sing a version of California Love by Tupac Shakur to tell the homeless people just how great California is. There's a reference to Matt Stone's house in Venice in there (I wasn't sure when I heard it, but the possibility made me giggle anyway): "In the city, city of Venice. Right by Matt's house, you can chill if you're homeless."
You can watch Night of the Living Homeless here (I hope!)
Like the South Park boys, I offer no solution.