The office where I spend my days looks out across a restaurant parking lot to a major intersection in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. The restaurant draws people who work in offices like mine, mostly well dressed and prosperous appearing. There are groups of men, groups of women, couples, arranged meetings, and a few singles. I am on the ground floor, so I have a good view of this activity. I also have a good view of the activity just beyond it where Nicholson Lane crosses Rockville Pike. All day long the cars and trucks travel there: slowing, waiting, signaling, turning, sometimes honking. There are usually lines of cars just sitting and waiting their turns. This is why the intersection draws homeless people seeking assistance in the form of cash. Quite often there are several of them, and quite often they are there for most of the day. I have watched them in the cold of winter, the heat of summer, and everything in between.
He had served in the U.S. Navy in World War Two. His ship had been in battle, with many killed and injured. He was among the injured. He wasn’t killed, but they thought he would be dead soon. They must care for the ones who had a chance. Unconscious, they rolled him into a room that was out of the way. The men of the ship had a name for this room. It was “Saint Peter’s Room.” My friend told afterward that he kidded the medics for putting him in Saint Peter’s Room when he didn’t need to be there. He recovered from his wounds and lived a long life afterward.