Please note that I am not here to exploit the homeless to gain any attention whatsoever for my photography work. [In fact] If you recall my recent Facebook post about a guy name Rick who walked into the Starbucks and gave everyone $20 Starbucks (app reload), it simply made everyone's day (including mine since I was having a miserable 2 weeks).
So, in the spirit of "Paying Forward," I decided to meet this interesting fella whom I took note of everyday because he would always be doing some type of exercise as I drove by on J, in the same spot everyday, between 11th and 12th street.
As of late, driving on "J" Street has been a part of my daily routine. With the morning traffic slowing things down a bit, it allows the opportunity to see--the people that (literally) live on the grid (the homeless).
Despite recent revitalization efforts of the downtown area, it still leaves the question of how or where can the homeless seek refuge? What types of aide or assistance can community leaders come up with to help the less fortunate? How and what can our community do to provide some relief especially during the cold and rainy weather?
"I enjoy art and like to read spy books." - John
So, as I pulled over to the closest parking meter to his location, I pretended initially that I was there to park and go about my day. However, I still said "hello" to him! Then, he joyously said hello back as if we had known each other for quite some time. [And] Given how most people tread swiftly pass homeless people, I was expecting that John would ask me if I had any loose change but he didn't.
As I proceeded to put in the last quarter, I told John that I was actually there to meet him and simply enjoy some coffee! Who doesn't love a nice warm cup of coffee during a chilly-sunny day!
Contrary to the great afternoon vibe, a reality of what John faces everyday occurred and I became a witness of. It's the scary fact that other homeless individuals [who look like drug-users] harass and steal from him constantly. I had just bought John some water, a gatorade, a banana and a bag of nuts from the corner store close by and this other dude walks up to us and tries to steal his gatorade and banana. I told him to leave it alone and that it belonged to John. I proceeded to call 911 and he took note of that so he left.
I learned a lot about John today but most importantly I learned a lot about the experience itself. Most shockingly, I took note that he didn't ask me once for money! I guess he just enjoyed the companionship. Perhaps, it's because he doesn't have any family or even friends to seek help from, much less have a meaningful conversation with. Learning this from my experience, I hope you too can reach out to people like John and just enjoy a cup of coffee!