Just rode my bike over to Bartlett to get something to eat and met this “homeless” man…again. The first week I was here, he came up to me in front of Rockefeller Chapel and something of the sort: “Excuse me, sir. I want you to know that I’m a very well-educated man. I’m new in Hyde Park and I don’t have any money.” Having had plenty of experience with homeless people in Austin, I told him, in kinder words, to cut to the chase. “I’m just wanting a little change so I can buy something to eat.” Not really believing him, I gave him a dollar or something. Two days later, I saw him on 55th Street while I was walking home. Same story. I gave him 50 cents. And so forth. Eventually, I stopped giving him anything. The next to last time that I saw him I looked at him and I said, slightly smiling, “You really don’t recognize me, do you?” He regarded me for a second. “No, sir, I can’t say I do.” I told him that he had been telling me the same story for weeks now. There once had been a time when he and I could both say that we were new to Hyde Park, but that time has long past. I advised him to change his story. He sneered at me, and in order to keep from getting mugged or something I gave him a quarter. And what do you know? A week later, he’s still at it. If there are indeed some University of Chicago students reading this blog, I’m sure there are a few of them nodding their heads in recognition–If I’ve seen him that much, I’m almost certain other people have too. That guy’s kind of likeable, though. There are others who are rather frightening. Very often I don’t carry any real cash on me at all, and if I tell them that, they of course call me a liar (or, around here, a “stupid fucking white boy”). One of these street people once called me that in Texas while I was quite a ways from home and I said, “Look, If I had even fifty cents on me I wouldn’t be standing here in the cold–I would have hopped on the damned bus!” This is not entirely true as I like to walk, but I think I at least made my point on that occasion. I met one person like that today–I gave him some change outside the Reg but refused to give him any more (because I no longer had any) when I was outside Barnes and Noble later. He called me a liar. Anyway, I’ve pretty much decided to stop giving to the local homeless. Well, I say that, but I rarely manage to stick to it. Oh, well.


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