There are approximately 58,000 homeless people in Los Angeles. That’s unbelievable, but it’s true. It’s pretty normal to drive down the street and see various tents set up on sidewalks or to see more than one person at any given on/off ramp to the highway jiggling a cup or holding a handmade sign. After being exposed to it for so long, you unknowingly start to glaze past the problem as you go about your day. It’s an unfortunate reality of living in a big city, but that’s how it is. We learn to ignore the various trash that litters the curbs of just about every street and we also learn to look past the heartbreaking reality of homelessness as it stares us directly in the face. That is, of course, until a homeless person knocks on your window at a red light or, as happened at work this weekend, screams profanities directly into your face.
As I worked in Atlanta, I grew a couple personal relationships with homeless people. There was Hawk, who washed my car (sometimes three times a week), and a man that calls himself “Shocker 5,000” whom I shared a few drinks with as he called his brother from my phone and vowed to watch over my car as it sat in the parking lot. There were many others whom I knew on a less intense level, like a man called “Pussyeater” that has an abnormally long tongue and a tattoo on his arm of the Rolling Stones logo. There was also the guy from Chicago that thought my name was John and once sold me some weed even though I never asked for it and didn’t agree to buy it (“Here, just take it take it take it,” he said as he reached through my window and dropped it into my lap).