When I’m low on cash I still try to give something to someone in need — it seems to encourage the circle of cash flow. But how do you choose who to give to with so many homeless on the streets of Los Angeles? While every instance is different, here’s one of my stories.
I spotted a short and gray-bearded man in a dirty, torn white T-shirt standing at a 101 off-ramp in Echo Park. He didn’t approach me, but stood there, looking at me, hands together like he was praying, and mouthing, “Please, please, please.” I found myself grinning, thinking to myself that that’s probably what I would be doing if I was ever forced onto the street, and had to ask for money. Like how I used to get down on my hands and knees and scoot into the TV room with my friend Natalie when we wanted to ask my mom if we could do something, like go buy candy at White Hen, and we would kneel there in front of her repeating, “Pleasies, pleasies, pleasies…” and she would laugh. Gotta add some humor in, right, make people feel like they’re getting something for their money (or permission), even if it’s just a smile. For instance, I always try to give to this one guy downtown who holds up the sign, “SAME OLD SHIT.”
The bearded man in the torn white T-shirt also reminded me of a man who goes to my gramma’s church in Chicago, who designs and prints these awesome Christian-themed T-shirts and sweatshirts that he wears to Sunday Mass. For instance, this one below.
Anyways, I pulled out one of three dollar bills in my wallet — the only money I had in addition to the 54 cents in my bank account — and went to hand it to him and he held out his styrofoam cup, caked with dirt on the inside. As I carefully maneuvered the dollar into the cup, he smiled at me and said, “Happy birthday!” and turned to walk away. And I smiled.
What I really want to do is set up a foundation of some sort, sponsor a master plan, that explores how to construct a social services network to better serve the homeless, and then make that happen.