As I write today’s post, the view outside my window is one of pale gray sky and snowy sidewalks. On Friday we had our first proper snowfall of the winter. We Stockholmers were beginning to wonder if there would be any snow before Christmas–and it was getting a bit depressing, the dullness of the winter darkness, the heavy sleep feeling that settles upon you and makes you feel perpetually tired. You need snow to break it up and remind you that Christmas is just around the corner.
Today it’s around -7C (that’s 19.4F) and it looks like we’re going to get more snow soon. It makes me think about Rune, the homeless man I often see on my way to work. Sometimes I am late in the morning because I want to make sure he has had something warm to drink or I check on him and see if he has enough warm winter clothing. Last year, I gave him some winter gloves, a hat, an old fleece jacket of Tord’s that was still in good condition but that he no longer wanted. Rune was so happy. He said he had looked for similar items at the shelter where he stays when it’s too cold to be outside but they didn’t have any that would fit him. A few days later, he looked devastated. Someone had stolen the winter gear I’d given him. “It’s what happens at the shelters,” he said. “Someone sees you have more than them, and they take it because they are angry and desperate.” I was surprised he didn’t begrudge the people who stole from him. He said he’d been homeless long enough to understand why they do it.
So how do I know Rune? Well, I see him when I am on my way to work. He is often standing outside Åhléns City, selling Situation Stockholm, a magazine features articles about Stockholm, the situation of those in need, etc. Many homeless people in Stockholm sell it and I always buy an issue from Rune. Sometimes I buy several issues. I do it because I want to help him in his struggle to find a place to live. Rune is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He is always more concerned about others. He is always polite, even to the people who walk past him and make rude remarks. On the day my father died, Rune saw how unhappy I was and his kind words and his compassion lifted my spirits.
You’ll know Rune if you see him. He looks exactly like Santa Claus. Or, at least, *I* think he looks like Santa Claus. You’ll recognise him as soon as you see him. So if you’re in Stockholm and you happen to see a man selling Situation Stockholm and he reminds you of all your childhood dreams of Santa, then that’s Rune–buy a Situation Stockholm from him and, if it’s cold, ask him if he’d like a hot chocolate. But don’t just buy the magazine from Rune. There are hundreds of other Situation Stockholm salespeople out there who want to find homes, who want to get off the streets and restart their lives. So buy your copies from them as well.
My goals for 2014 are: once my new novel is ready, buy advertising space in Situation Stockholm to help support this cause and donate money to Stockholms Stadsmission. I also want to be more active in helping, so I am going to figure out something I can do to make more of a difference.
I hope Rune has a warm place to sleep tonight. I worry about him when the temperatures begin to dip. Tomorrow, I will keep an eye out for him. I always do.