Story 2: Frank and I in the Park
The next day was beautiful. It was mid January in Miami. One of my favorite past times, is to sit down and read a book. Today, called for just that.
I walked over to Bay Front Park. People were scattered on wooden chairs, under huge weeping willow trees, enjoying the shade. Others were along the bay, under the palm trees, and soaking up the sun.
Next to a big weeping willow tree, I found my spot. There was shade, and a direct view of the glistening opal surface of Biscayne Bay. The yachts, and fishing boats we passing by the way pedestrians pass by a small town’s boulevard on a Sunday—with ease and joy.
The relaxation of reading a book in paradise beckoned, and I followed.
Alas! A second homeless person approached me.
His name was Frank. He was coming for the money. I knew it from the beginning. What was interesting was how he did it.
He didn’t ask for money. He looked at me, and said, “Excuse me, if you don’t mind, I’d like to guess what kind of person you are.” I smiled, and said, “Shoot.”
Frank rubbed his chin, as if deep in prophetical thought, then added: “You’re a genuine person with a good heart.”
Frank was a good sales person. How can I dislike that analysis? Giving complements to your bearer of alms: Now that is what should be on a homeless person’s resume.
After that slick flattery, I was expecting him to ask for the money. But he didn’t. He asked if he could pull up a chair and sit with me.
Oh brother, here we go again.
Once more, I accepted a homeless person into my space. I was so content under that tree. I didn’t want to move.
Frank sat next to me, and we started talking. He was a black man in his early 50’s. He didn’t have much hair and had a short, nappy, and blotchy black beard and mustache. He was about 6’1 and thin, and wore a blue baseball hat and light denim jacket. He smelled of old dirty clothes, and black and mild cigars. The most obtrusive feature about him was his teeth. I never saw such yellow, rotten teeth. It was hard to have a conversation with him and those teeth.
Yet, I was a prisoner of the moment and I accepted it. Or was I a liberator of the moment? Doesn’t really matter, perhaps.
Anyway, we talked.
He asked me what I thought of him. I told him he was a good salesman. He laughed. He told me he did time in Virginia. He said he was fired at his last job, by an unfair manager.
He felt my attention, and my listening. He connected with my eye contact (and I accepted and tolerated his teeth). “I’m down and out Joe, the World isn’t giving me any breaks.” I continued listening to him vent, and then I brought up a quote I read recently:
“Whatever the World is withholding from you, you are actually withholding from the World.”
You can say it was my first words of advice to a homeless person. I told him, “The World isn’t giving you any breaks, because you are not giving the World anything yourself. The World is a reflection of yourself.” Then I tried to make it practical for him.
I suggested he work in a soup kitchen once or twice a week. Help out the staff, for free. Feed the other homeless people, and you’ll get a free meal yourself. They might put you up in a shelter, and help you get back on track. Frank nodded in agreement.
I then gave Frank six bucks from my pocket, and wished him well. He said thank you. Then he asked me if I had any old clothes for him. I got the old up-sell question from him, after I gave him money. He proved again, he was a good salesman.
This time, I told him no.
He smiled and nodded good-bye, and walked slowly towards the opal colored bay.
To Be Continued…..Part 4……Dee And I Meet Twice