Once upon a time, the famous writer Mark Twain wrote the novel “The Prince and the Beggar”, the main characters of which were temporarily reversed. According to the will of the author, these events took place in 1547 in London. And the story I’m going to tell you today is not fiction, and it happened not so long ago in the American city of Salt Lake City. Ben McAdams has been mayor of Salt Lake County, Utah for about three years.
This person does not work “for show”, he really tries to do a lot of useful things. Recently, McAdams decided to conduct an incredible experiment: for a couple of days he radically changed his life and turned into a beggar homeless. Ben McAdams went out to meet his adventures light: he had neither a passport nor a wallet with him – only a bag of clothes, a phone and a scrap of an old tarpaulin.
His appearance was almost the same as that of a homeless man: dirty, worn jeans, a faded stretched sweater. In general, for all the time that the mayor portrayed a beggar, no one recognized him. Why did McAdams start this whole game? The politician thought that such an experiment would help him to make the reform to improve the quality of life of the poor and homeless, planned for the near future, more effective.
The most important task that he set himself was the following: to figure out why flophouses are so unpopular among homeless people that they prefer to sleep in the open air. Therefore, the mayor decided to spend one night on the street, and the next in a flophouse. On the first night, the politician settled down right in the middle of the lawn on Rio Grande Street, but he managed to sleep for four hours, no more.
The thing is that this area is one of the most popular places to spend the night among the city’s homeless, and even before dark, several hundred vagrants came there. Drug dealers offered their goods at every turn, quarrels were heard everywhere, fights broke out every now and then. Ben McAdams was completely unaware of why people choose to stay on the street for the night, ignoring comfortable beds with mattresses in a flophouse. It turned out to clarify the situation the next night, when the false tramp went to one of these establishments.
Immediately upon entering, he received two really important tips. The first is that you need to go to bed in shoes, otherwise they will be stolen. The second is that it is better not to go to the toilet, because they can rape there. Following the first advice, the politician lay down on the top shelf of a three-tier bed right in his shoes. Although it was dimly lit, McAdams could see used syringes and drug bags on the floor. And there were clouds of smoke in the air, there was a distinct smell of marijuana.
The false tramp did not have time to fall asleep, as a quarrel began nearby, which smoothly turned into a brawl with the beating of the heads of those fighting directly on the concrete floor. When the experiment ended and Ben McAdams returned to his normal life, he said: “I was incredibly shocked. I am shocked that the reports I receive do not even approximately show everything that happens in flophouses. Now I perfectly understand why homeless people prefer to sleep on the street rather than in shelters. Well, we have a lot of work to do.”
In the course of the experiment, Ben McAdams collected so much information that the reform aimed at improving the lives of the homeless will surely turn out to be much more fundamental and successful than it was planned. After all this history, there is regret that in our homeland our officials are not forcibly forced to visit the place for at least a few days, even if not a homeless person, but a simple ordinary person.