Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 7:30 PM
On the way home from work tonight, a brightly dressed guy sitting on the sidewalk asked if I had a couple of dollars to spare. Even though the temperatures in LA were pushing eighty-degrees, he had a knit cap on his head. And his smile was big. He didn’t look like he was on drugs. Actually, he looked friendly and happy-go-lucky and my heart went out to him.
“I don’t have any spare dollar bills, but if you’ll share a bit of your story—why you’re here now, asking me this—I’ll buy you dinner at The Whatsit Café,” I said. As soon as I said the words, my mind raced forward, stopped in mid-thought, then zoomed on. If you've ever wondered what temporary insanity looks like, I’m sure it was on my face at that moment.
Still, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while—listening to a homeless person’s story face-to-face. I want to know more about the homeless, but I’m too chicken to approach anyone or do much more than wince when I see one of them sleeping on the sidewalk in broad daylight.
The guy took at least five seconds to decide, then said he wasn’t really wasn’t that hungry. It might’ve been due to that hat on his head, but more likely it was the look of surprised terror on my face. Yet another reason why I'd never make it as an anti-terriorist spy. Ah, but I sighed from every nerve ending at his answer. I guess I’m not ready to interview the homeless after all.