I recently put out an Amazon book on stories about angels for the Holiday Season – it’s titled “Every Kind of Angel” in case you have a sudden urge to look it up at the Amazon Books website.  Thinking about angels as I wrote the book led me to think of the many things that may have been inspired by the minds of angels.  For example, how many of us have discovered a public bench exactly at a moment when we needed one?  When the day was too hot?  Or too cold? Or we were just too weathered? Surely the public bench is a logical thing for an angel-minded inventor to have created, eh?

And also, how many great meetings of people have been made at public benches?  How many times did ordinary people have a chance to fellowship with the most intelligent person man in the world – Albert Einstein – when Einstein was teaching at Princeton and would end his characteristically long walks at a public bench in Princeton’s Joyce Kilmer Park?

Unfortunately, that old tradition of public bench networking may be becoming permanently benched.  Benches are now being taken down all over America; A recent article in the Orange County Register may help explain why this is happening:

Since October, the city (Anaheim) has taken out bus benches at the four stops at Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue, and another bench further north in front of the Captain Kidd’s restaurant.

City spokesman Mike Lyster said having benches had “outlived its purpose.” Some homeless in the area, he said, often used the covered stops as a makeshift shelter and the benches as beds. Illegal activity was common, he said.

The elimination of public benches has also been seen in my largely senior community, for the same reason.  Benches have simply disappeared in my senior community.  It is true we no longer have to look at the homeless sitting on benches now.  But instead we have to look at about three time as many homeless since about five years ago just lying around on various public slabs of pavement.

Some years ago the City of Santa Clarita became one of the first in Los Angeles Count to express public bench advertising.  Drivers along Valencia Boulevard could see a certain movie that was coming out, or a certain book about to be published on a Valencia Boulevard bench.  But this practice has now been largely silenced now.  The benches are going, going, gone, along with all the advertisements they used to carry.

Yet for the senior citizen in America benches have longed served as a little oasis area where they can stop to rest during a necessary walk or a constitutional.  But this is largely no longer available because of the fear of the benches drawing in the homeless.

Do the homeless realize they have this power, to make so many benches in America disappear?

I know that the homeless at least has the power and the style of mercury, because like mercury, when you push down on it, it only spreads further into larger boundaries.  And so it happened in Anaheim.  It true that the removal of Anaheim’s benches has at least kept the homeless from collecting at Anaheim’s public bus stops.  But today as reported in the news the local homeless are now all lying around – most often in a prone position -- in a much greater mass behind the Angels baseball stadium.

The same thing has happened in my own community and – we might as well as well say it – it is happening in every community in America now. 

In my own community, the elderly who have to walk are now taking sitting breaks inside banks, which seem to compete with each other now for the best sofa.  I saw a friend of mine name of Joseph who is in his Eighties at my bank the other day, sitting in the sofa where loan clients traditionally wait for customer service.  First Joseph waved to me.  Then he told me:

“No benches.”

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.