During my “Hipshot” photography (shooting from the hip only) I often see the same people as I walk to the office in DTLA each day. There is one particular homeless man who is always polite; says hello and sometimes, but not always asks for spare changes (which I have never had). No matter what, I always get a “Have a blessed day” even after I say no.
Today was different. I approached him and we did our usual salutation, “Hey Boss” etc. Understand, in my mind, the giving to homeless is complicated. More often than not I fear that my hard earned money goes to drugs or alcohol and not food or necessities as hoped. But for some reason today I overrode that barrier and changed up our normal script with…
“Tell you what, I am not going to just give you money but I will give you my lucky $2 bill if you let me take your photo.
He was quiet for a second then asked very seriously “why is it lucky?”
I told him “Well it has been for me... and also because I have had it forever" (which is true).
Then he asked (again very seriously) “But why are you giving it to me?”
It was my turn to pause... The question alone broke me inside a bit as it was obvious this man rarely was shown a true act of kindness, even a small one like a lucky $2 bill.
I responded with the truth, “Well I think it has run its course with me but more importantly, I think it’s your turn now for some good luck”. With that I handed him the folded up two dollar bill which he accepted (looking down at it the whole time).
"Now let's take that photo" I remarked as I raised up my camera. As I did the most amazing smile unfolded on his face ((SNAP)).
After a quick fist bump and a "see you tomorrow" I was on my way.
As I walked my quarter mile to the office I too was smiling and realized I had received as much or more from the interaction as my friend. It is amazing the little gifts in life we are given if we simply take a few moments to reach out to others.
…Tomorrow I am making a point to get his name. I considered giving him the nickname "lucky" but as of now, I think that might be better suited as a self-assigned sobriquet.