Normally, I come home at a decent hour to avoid scary solo nighttime strolls and the everlasting wait that is the subway at 2 am on a Saturday night. This evening, I was working and then went to a movie, which caused me to get off of the subway around 1 am.
I left the subway platform and walked home quickly — there was no one about and I don’t really enjoy the lamp-less streets in my neighborhood. I turned the corner onto my block and started to go up the stairs to the door that would lead me to my apartment. I stopped dead in my tracks with one foot on the bottom stair. Sprawled out across the floor was a man immediately in front of the door that I needed to get through to go inside and go to bed.
I panicked. I thought, perhaps this unfortunate man had a heart attack and was lying in front of the aforementioned door unconscious and dying. I rushed up the stairs and then noticed to my right, a shopping cart. I got a little closer and came to the realization that this man didn’t look like anyone I had seen in my apartment building before and that the cart definitely belonged to a homeless person. I called my roommate, who thankfully was still awake. For about 15 minutes, we argued about what to do. Do I call the police? Wake up my super? I couldn’t stand here all night while I waited for someone to come to my aid… so we devised a very simple and intelligent plan: carefully step over the sleeping giant and run to my apartment and lock the door.
I hung up, preparing myself for this feat.
I slowly and carefully walked up to the man, who was in fact snoring very loudly and leaving a very memorable stench in the lobby. I fumbled with my keys, keeping one eye on him and one eye on the lock. It took longer than normal to open the door and I quickly stepped over him into my building and made a mad dash to the door of my apartment.
Once inside with the door firmly locked, my roommate and I decided to call 311, the non emergency police. I explained to the woman on the line what I had seen. She asked me if I was attacked or hurt and I explained to her that no, the man was sleeping and seemed harmless–perhaps he was cold? Regardless, I pay rent to sleep here and he does not and it makes me incredibly uncomfortable to know that he is out there and that something COULD have happened because I was out there alone.
She filed a complaint and told me to have a nice night. Thank you 311 lady for your optimism. I was very crabby and not about to “have a good night.”
I received an email shortly thereafter, titled “Homeless Encampment.” Baffled that this happens so often that there is a category and service request number, I showed it to my roommate who was equally as concerned.
About half an hour later, I got an email telling me the police have gotten my complaint, and two hours after that, my inbox contained an email stating that the police “took action to fix the condition” (which I am going out on a limb here to assume that means “removed the homeless man”).
I haven’t seen him since.