Ashy to Classy

I walked past 2 seemingly homeless guys today in Hollywood. I say seemingly so as not to assume. They were sitting & lying on the concrete and seemed to have all their worldly possessions in a nearby heap. So, safe to say they were homeless or at least behaving in a homeless manner. Sitting on the concrete was a dead give away even without the other clues. People with home’s don’t sit on concrete unless there’s some Spice Girl Tickets up for grab, or a Last Comic Standing audition near by. I didn’t get a tooth count but I would bet my future house that neither one had all 32. They had their wits about them enough to know I had just left an audition. One asked me how it went and when would I know if I got it or not. Only in Hollywood will a homeless person’s first question be how your audition went. Or maybe my friendly transient was channeling my mother. He certainly did a top notch job of expressing her usual post audition sentiments. All I needed to hear him say was “ Baby, you should do a McDonald’s Commercial!” and I would have said …”Ma? Is that you in there?”

Then the younger transient complimented my blazer and shirt. He asked me if my shirt was Ralph Lauren and said he used to have one just like it. He said it was a quality cut. I told him my shirt was not Ralph Lauren but it was custom made.  So you see how he was in the ballpark.   Now, before you accuse me of going soft, I got the shirt made in Korea where a custom made shirt is still probably less than a off the rack shirt from say Banana Republic.

I instantly changed my opinion of him. Sure he was still homeless but this guy use to live a different life, a life of culture and class. And although in this current state of despair he still had an appreciation of the finer things. Pretty amazing what a well placed compliment can do. I gave him a buck. Honestly I can’t remember whether it was before or after the barrage of compliments.

2 thoughts on “Ashy to Classy

  1. Anon

    The first time I came into contact, real contact with homeless people was in NY.

    I have always wondered who they were before they were this. Some you could tell were from the hospital systems. Some where kids, run aways or cast offs. Some where people just like me, one check away from being in trouble but either they had outlived their welcome with family/friends and the couch surfing circuit or just didn’t have anyone.

    McDonald’s would put out their garbage and there would a swarm, people knew which bags contained actual garbage and which ones contained the sandwiches and whatever that didn’t sell.

    It was the most humbling thing I have ever witnessed.


  2. me!

    I’ve had two close (by which I mean ongoing contact over a period of time) contacts with homeless people. In both cases, substance abuse was an issue.

    In the second case, the individual (who had a college degree) seemed serious about getting off the stuff that had made him homeless. So I worked with him over a period of about six months to help him get through residential treatment and help him stay clear of other users. Even then, there were relapses along the way.

    Finally, though, he took a bus back to his home in another state, stayed with family for a while, got a job, and then got his own apartment.

    I wish I could say that the story had a happy ending, but unfortunately it didn’t. About six months into his new life, he picked up the pipe again, lost his job and apartment, and wound up homeless again in my city.

    I didn’t have the energy, resources, or spirit for a second rescue effort, but I don’t regret the effort spent the first time around.

    But when you meet homeless people who make you scratch your head and ask, “Why is this person homeless? He/she seems like s/he could make it,” addiction is frequently the culprit. And people who have experience with crack addicts will tell you that a crackheads can be some of the most sociable people with the most winning personalities. (Heroin addicts…not so much, or so I have been told by a social worker who specializes in substance abuse cases.)

    Of course, I believe Mr. Perkins has seen a fair amount of the effects of addiction in those around him, and that this is why he abstains from alcohol.

    My own reasons are not nearly as principled. Alcohol does things to my digestion which are not pleasant to contemplate.

    I’ll spare you the details.

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