Not something I wanted to see

Posted: June 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

I spotted someone today that I haven’t seen in about fifteen years. Over those years certain things would remind me of the past and make me wonder whatever happened to him. Not because we were super close friends but simply out of curisosity because he, I and two other guys spent a lot of time together. Jeff played guitar for us.

He lived on Vodka and coke (not Coca~Cola). I never saw the guy eat except for an occasional bag of popcorn. I remember stopping at a taco joint at 2:00 AM after a job a few times but even then I think he just asked if he could have one of our tortillas. He lived in a cluttered garage apartment behind his Grandparent’s house, drove an old beat-up El Camino and was reliable enough of a customer that the liquor store he favored let him take bottles on credit.

Today, fifteen years later, I saw him sitting out in the sun on a bucket or an egg crate at a major intersection holding up one of those handwritten signs, muttering to himself and waving weakly to no one in particular. I do not like saying this but seeing him as an intersection panhandler and street person does not shock me as much as the fact that he is still alive.

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Comments
  1. kristiane says:

    I was just in Seattle and I was driving back to my old neighborhood. As I drove off the freeway I saw the same man who has been sitting there with a sign since I moved to that area ten years ago. He was a customer in our coffee shop and would bring in some of the money he got each morning for a small cup of black coffee.
    He is simple minded, if I can judge. But nice as can be. I feel kinda comforted knowing he is still there, cause if he is gone, I would be worried.

  2. laanba says:

    Wow, I can’t imagine what it is like to see someone you know panhandling.

  3. Greg says:

    Kristiane, that sounds like the same guy you wrote about in your blog some time ago.

    Laurie, it was a bit of a jolt but it wasn’t hard to imagine him that way. Like I said, I was surprised to see that he was still alive.

  4. I have passed by so many intersections here in Houston actually trying to avoid looking at the faces of panhandlers. My biggest fear is that I might recognize someone with whom I once worked. What’s scary is that in the current volatile nature of radio, it wouldn’t surprise me.

    If on the off chance I do look at a panhandler’s face–regardless of the issues that brought them to this tragic point in their lives–I think the standard, “there but by the grace of God, go I”.

    While I don’t think I could ever allow my life to fall to those depths, I understand how someone else’s could.

    Damn sad, really.

    LK

  5. maleesha says:

    Wow. I’m not sure what I would do. I guess all that wondering about what happened to him and imagining his fate has ended…and has blown your mind! From the description it sounds like he was on his way there from the beginning. Why do people take such vastly different paths in life? I’ll be looking at panhandlers a bit closer from now on.

  6. catrina says:

    So how much did you give him?
    Kidding. That would be extremely awkward. I once removed my sweatshirt and gave it to a panhandling stranger. He was very happy until he saw that I had a shirt on underneath. 🙂 Actually, had I really been topless, he probably would have given my shirt back to me….now that I’m 35!

  7. Ginny says:

    Wow, great post. You’ve said so much in a short space. “He lived on vodka and coke (not Coca-Cola)” Good line.

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