Sepia Saturday: Not the most comfortable of resting places.

Whilst on one of my walks, I noticed this bench near the lifeguard station was being used for a spot of sunbathing. Not the most comfortable place to lie down on, and when he gets up, he’s sure to have a few interesting lines down his back.


After seeing this, I started thinking about people who have no choice but to use public benches as makeshift beds. I’m sure we’ve all seen and pitied homeless people sleeping on park benches, and thought that it must be really difficult to get a good night’s rest on such a hard surface. I did a bit of research, and found out that some countries are making life even more difficult for these unfortunate people. For example, Honolulu, in an effort to reclaim its parks, beaches and bus stops for general pubic use, has replaced its benches with round stools just big enough for one person to sit on. Tokyo’s oldest park, Ueno Onshi, has come up with a rather unconventional design for the meagre few benches it provides. These have a steel partition down the middle, and the seat slopes downwards so that in order to not fall off, one has to place one’s feet firmly on the ground. Another type of bench designed to deter the homeless, is a hard tubular bench which is cold in winter and hot in summer. I found a happier story about some benches in Vancouver, which have been designed to fold out into miniature shelters at night. After all, shouldn’t cities, instead of working to make life even more untenable for these unfortunates, rather be asking themselves why some of their populace have no roof over their heads, and have to sleep out in the open? Shew!  All this thinking on my part came about from just one shot I took yesterday. I think I need to relax now. Wishing you all a great weekend.




76 comments on “Sepia Saturday: Not the most comfortable of resting places.

  1. well your cool sepia photo got me thinking too! First – before I read your thoughtful text, I first just felt it was such a great choice for a sepia tone. It was in line with a sun kissed feel and the washed out feeling of a bright sun – and even sandy color came to mind. Then the active showering and this “fit man” on the bench just seemed to fit this summer snapshot mood – which is also seen in the sky.

    and in the photo – the angle you give us has that artsy touch – like the three showers lined up – the lines of bench and then items in the sky – I dun now – just a nice angle.
    and then your text – about the homeless and benches and all that – warmed my heart to read -and I agree. And last February on my trip to Fla. I grabbed two photos I caught of guy’s sleeping. One was a young dude at an airport – and the other was a many sleeping on a picnic table. he seemed well dressed but the bag he had with him – and then the place he was napping made me wonder about his story. After I took the photo I decided to not take anymore and just snuck a couple of bucks into his bag and we left. anyhow, very thought provoking post – enjoyed it my friend – have a nice rest of July! ❤ ~y.

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Yvette. I bet that guy wondered where the money came from. Maybe I should have paid this guy for taking his photo, especially as he’s now all over the internet. 😕

  2. Here in New York many of our homeless live in the subway stations. Part of the problem is the dismantling of the mental health care system. They emptied the awful asylums without creating alternative, more helpful living arrangements for people who desperately need help. However, the guy in your lovely picture looks like he’s peacefully sunbathing. At easy I hope he is!

  3. Great shot, and you do make some good points about homeless people. I agree with you too. Why don’t they work towards helping those poor people instead of making life even harder? Making uncomfortable benches doesn’t get rid of the problem.

  4. Good point…..instead of making it more uncomfortable for the homeless we could tackle the original cause of the problem. Having said that, in Australia at least with our generous social security system there really are few excuses for homelessness….often it is a personal choice to live on the streets.

  5. I so agree with you. Why not spend the money used to redesign and create new, “no-rest” seating on ways to help the homeless? Making the environment less suitable for them is no answer.

  6. Thanks for this post Sylvia. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Cities must take a look at why there are so many homeless, as I do not believe anyone would consciously choose this lifestyle.

  7. That is too bad to make it so hard for someone to get a decent rest. We have our share of homeless people here which is crazy given our brutally cold winters. But at least we have a lot of shelters but they are overcrowded.

  8. I’m with you Sylvia. If only more cities would be more socially conscious as Vancouver! I see couple of homeless outside union station on my work daily but I heard they go to a shelter during the night. Chicago has quite a number of shelters.

  9. In cases where vagrancy is a choice, they need to be discouraged the heck out. Trouble is, some people have genuinely been forced into that position. Still, one doesn’t want them in one’s face. I agree with provision – but not done in such a way as to give a nuisance to the hardworking public.

  10. Sylvia I applaud your post. As I started reading I blurted out ” Let me tell you about Vancouver”. I was delighted you had found it. As I think you may know we do a fair amount of work here in Calgary at the Food Bank. I believe many people have no idea, given a set of tragic circumstances, how close they could be to needing help and being either homeless or on the verge of it. Bravo to you and your post for bringing awareness and hopefully compassion.

    • Sue, when I decided to use this pic for my post today, I had absolutely no idea what train of thought it would lead me to, but I’m so glad it did. We can never be judgmental of the circumstances which those less fortunate than ourselves, find themselves in. We live in a very unpredictable world, and it’s really scary to realise how fine the line is, between living above and below ‘the breadline’. Thanks so much for the link to ‘The Mad Hatters’ post. It was so moving, and very thought provoking.

      • You are most welcome Sylvia. I appreciate your eloquent and compassionate words and thoughts in the post and in this comment. Kindness like yours is what the world needs more of. Thank you.

  11. I think it’s good that this picture made you think as much as it did. It’s called having a social conscious. I have mixed feelings about the actions taken to deter laying down in the park, as I do about homelessness. I have several friends on my facebook who are disabled. Some are past the eligibility phase and are living on their meager incomes others are depending on the kindness and generosity of family and friends as they fight the system. I don’t know who I would turn to if joblessness or an illness made me homeless. I think many of us do not realize how close we are.

  12. This is really interesting, and what a kind and constructive way to bring an important issue to the attention of the public. This summer we were at the Frankfurt airport. Most airports have chairs designed to keep people from sleeping in them by putting bars in between the seats, but at Frankfurt, not only did they have seats that you could lie down and sleep on, but they also had full length reclinable lounge chairs.

  13. Love the way this photo set you off on one Sylvia 🙂 I have to say I’m in agreement with Kathryn on this. It’s a tough situation. He looks like one fit old bloke doing impressive sit-ups!

    I did once sleep on a bench in Dubrovnik. Not at all comfortable and I was woken up at dawn by 2 armed policemen, asking me and my friend to ‘move on’.

    • Thanks, Jude. I don’t think he was doing situps. I think he just raised his head to look for someone, and was shielding his eyes from the sun with his left hand. 😀
      Oh my! Your experience in Dubrovnik doesn’t sound too pleasant.

  14. Don’t even get me started on this topic. There’s a blog I follow (he doesn’t post often) where a fashion photographer posts his shots of the homeless in NYC. He does some marvelous work at Have to warn you that it’s hard to see these folks in the conditions they live in. I don’t understand the attitude that they “choose” to live this way. I remember the start of this homeless phenomenon back around the 80s in the this country when Saint Reagan’s politics closed most of the mental institutions. No one in their right mind would choose this sort of life. It’s either sad circumstances or the inability to cope with life that puts them on the streets.

  15. I actually laughed at this post… you sound like me when something dawns on me and I just have to say my bit…. I so agree with you on your rant… maybe it was good you only took one photo it could have turned out a long post….

  16. That is an interesting paradox. I am on the fence (bench) about how I feel about this. I feel badly for them but many are a product of self inflicted addiction but occasionally the sad Veteran or someone that lost everything. One can never tell the future. I also do not want to see homeless in beautiful parks so a conundrum.
    That said, the first thing I thought of was that guy is doing some great sit-ups! It’s all perspective no? Great color though!

    • I agree with you. Kathryn. It is indeed a conundrum. Funny that you think this man is doing sit-ups. I don’t think he was doing anything of the sort. He was just raising his head to look at something or somebody, and then he put it down again. 🙂

  17. I have to agree with Vancouver. We have many homeless in Austin and I always feel for them. The city waivers between pity and prickishness. Austin just cannot make up it;s mind as to how we feel about our homeless.

    • Thanks so much for your visit and comment. It sounds as though Austin has a very big homeless problem, but looking on-line, I see that there are quite a few shelters and organisations to help them get back on their feet again. Homelessness is such a tragedy for those affected by it.

      • I agree and the city does try. It is just torn between trying to pass anti-panhandling laws, which I hate, and rounding them up in winter, which I like. It’s not nice for them to be housed in a jail but it i warm, safe and dry. And they do get fed until the cold snap is over. I like the fact that the police in Austin do something other than just look tough.

  18. I can understand that you could not help thinking further. I guess if you are used to laying down on a hard surface, it is probably not a big of a deal. I think the climate changes at night to cold night or rain can be more of a problem. A good thought of why this is happening to begin with?

  19. Totally agree. I really feel for homeless people. And anyone else who wants to stretch out on a park bench. I quite like nice flat hard surfaces. For a short while, but I like sleeping on the floor anyway.

    I like the Vancover idea. If there aren’t enough – or any – shelters, at least that’s a start.

    • Thanks, Kate. Me too. If only more city councils would show compassion, instead of pretending that such problems either don’t exist, or must be ‘swept under the carpet’. I remember when South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup, it was reported that thousands of homeless people were forced off the streets, to hide the scale of poverty from the international World Cup fans.

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