In a Walgreens Parking Lot

This is ___________. We met this afternoon outside a Walgreens and chatted for a few minutes. He initially asked for money to get something to eat so I offered him a few cards to local restaurants and he was overjoyed. He hadn’t eaten since yesterday.

When asked how long he’s been on the street he told me a little over a year. He’s 58 and had lived with his mom for his entire life, he said, and when she died last year he had nowhere to go. Sometimes he sleeps at the City Mission but they’ve been full lately, he added, so he sleeps wherever he can. He knows someone who lets him sleep on their couch for $10 a night, he’s been sleeping there for the past few nights and that’s why he is panhandling, so he can raise the $10 to sleep on that couch.

I asked if I could make a photo of him and he began to get up. I suggested he stay where he was (sitting and leaning against the building) and that I’d rather come down to him. When I showed him his photo on camera he exclaimed, “I look good, I haven’t seen myself in a long time.”

__________ is a good example of the misconceptions people often have of those that live on the street. I won’t tell the rest of his story as it is too personal, you already know some of it, but I’ll just say that he could not work if he wanted to. He was not high on drugs or alcohol but was seeking gifts for survival.

To me it seems that in many ways people like __________ have been forgotten by society. He was nearly invisible to people as they passed (he kept panhandling as we chatted) but today I saw him and my life is better because of him.

He kept calling me “sir,” so I asked if he’d just call me Joe. Then as I stood to leave he said, “I love you Joe.” I told him I loved him, too.