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It was me, the silent streets, and a homeless guy 16.09.2008

It was in San Francisco, on the corner of Grant and Bush. I was jet-lagged, it was 6 in the morning, on a Sunday.

I went out to take some pictures of the silent streets around the hotel. I took the one above. And just as I hit 'off' on my camera, I was approached by a guy walking towards me, pulling a suitcase, and a piece of cardboard.

He had a very friendly face, he wore neat looking clothes, had a stubbled chin and combed back black hair, with sprinkles of grey in it. My guess is, that he was in his 50s, no more than that at least.

You know how you always feel like walking away from dodgy looking people who approach you in the street? I didn't feel it with him, so I stayed there, and he started to tell his story.

He stated his grandfather had practically established Las Vegas, and the entire show business there, and how he lived across the bridge in a big house, where he used to bring homeless kids, to give them a second chance by his hand. Some of them made it he said, others didn't. What he was telling me was fascinating, and almost entirely, but not completely, unbelievable. He said he didn't expect anything from me, but he wanted to tell his story, and so he did. How he had hung out with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, and pretty much anyone from the Las Vegas scene worth mentioning, and he then started singing for me, and doing his impersonations of these long buried stars. He wasn't bad either, and the settings, the empty streets of downtown San Francisco on a hazy Sunday morning, was very suitable for the performance. He told his story with such conviction, that for the time we spend together, his story was real to me, and to him.

Of course, there was a plea of money involved, you see, he had been so unfortunate the previous morning, to forget his wallet, and his house keys, in the big house across the bridge where he lived. Now he was trying to collect money for getting back across the bridge, so he could get in contact with his neighbor, and get the keys for his house. Considering that his story, and performance, was something I would've given money to experience, because it came out of nowhere, I gave him money, and he was thankful. He thanked me, the lord up above, and various other deities for my generous gift, and insisted on meeting me in the city later, to pay me back.

Although his story was almost, but not entirely, unbelievable, I insisted on him accepting them as a gift. He was baffled, and asked me how I could give him such a gift, and not expect anything in return from him, and I answered, that I did it because, if I ever ended up in a situation like his, I would hope somebody would help me, like I had just helped him. And on top of that, he had performed for me, 30 minutes, on the streets of San Francisco, for an audience of one, only one first row exclusive ticket available. That's worth paying for.

And now I know what I should've asked for in return: his picture, so it could've accompanied this story. On the other hand, he could be any of us, and maybe he would've been annoyed sitting with a clean shaven face, in front of his broadband connected iMac in his mansion across the bridge, and finding his picture on the web, associated with this story.

Comments

David Blangstrup | web / 15:59 / 16th of september / 2008

When you're young you experience these real-time phishing things, exactly because you don't run away or tell them to shut up and leave you alone. I have several stories like that, but this in particular is very nice and the scene set very original.

Jonas | web / 14:57 / 17th of september / 2008

Thanks David, I'm happy I stayed, I like to keep stories like this.

Agau | web | @ / 4:37 / 25th of september / 2008

I like this part. It's such a novelty - a karma sort of.

Although his story was almost, but not entirely, unbelievable, I insisted on him accepting them as a gift. He was baffled, and asked me how I could give him such a gift, and not expect anything in return from him, and I answered, that I did it because, if I ever ended up in a situation like his, I would hope somebody would help me, like I had just helped him.

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