Well, that didn't take long. Last week, Forrest Gump, writing about The Reality of Homelessness, stripped the layers from the feel good story of the week:
[T]hat viral photo of the homeless man, the cop, and the shoes that they are blind to all that is so very, very wrong about the situation.
What was wrong with situation, Gump wrote, was the inability to acknowledge shoeless man's mental state. Gump was a prophet. Or, as with many prophets, able to eliminate romanticism and confront reality, no matter how unpleasant. Just a few days later, the New York Times, had an update on the homeless man and his new shoes.
His name is Jeffrey Hillman, and on Sunday night, he was once again wandering the streets - this time on the Upper West Side - with no shoes.
The $100 pair of boots that Officer DePrimo had bought for him at a Skechers store on Nov. 14 were nowhere to be seen.
"Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money," Mr. Hillman said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. "I could lose my life." (snip)
Since Mr. Hillman's bare feet became famous, other people reported seeing him without shoes - one even after Officer DePrimo's gift - and one woman said she had bought him a pair of shoes a year ago. Whatever the case, Mr. Hillman seemed accustomed to walking the pavement shoeless.
He was panhandling on Sunday night and carried a cup with a few coins inside.
According to the article, Hillman served in the Armed Forces and has two children.
Gump and I may be wrong but obviously Hillman has some mental illness. Does he belong in a mental institution? Is he better off, happier, blankly wandering the streets without shoes than subjecting himself to the rules of a homeless shelter? Was the heart warming gift of shoes really a dangerous hindrance? I really don't know.
Perhaps there are no real solutions for the Jeffrey Hillmans of the world--and yes, every culture has them--and their home society. As a movie title once put it, It's Complicated. But I'm fairly certain that Hillman's sad condition isn't the fault of cruel, heartless, capitalistic America. And that's not complicated.