Positive Interactions With Positive People

Sleep?  Who needs sleep???

So, the other night, I had an amazingly positive experience that I needed to recount.

I’ve been down the past few weeks.  Back to back injuries, feeling very listless in life…just feeling down.  That feeling was kind of encapsulated Monday night as I rode my bike to work that morning, which definitely aggravated my abdominal issue.

Made a mistake…my bad.

Biking home was worse.

I also wanted to get some laundry done.  I hate doing laundry in my building (so f’in expensive), but I definitely wasn’t hauling clothes anywhere, so I put a load in the washing machine, and headed to Whole Foods in Hyde Park.

I don’t often shop at Whole Foods.  It’s a bit rich for my blood.  But I remembered they have really good pizza, and at 2 slices for $6, the taste to price ratio was right up my alley.  It had been a long day, I’d had salad for lunch I was in the doldrums, and all I wanted was to eat and watch a movie while icing my abs.

You know how in those minutes, when you kind of feel at the end of the rope, is exactly when things never seem to go right?  Well, that’s exactly what happened when I got to Whole Foods.

The pizza was all gone!

WTF???

There were no more slices.  The young lady working at the pizza bar was still making whole pizza, but that was it.

I didn’t want a whole pizza.  I shouldn’t have been eating pizza anyway, but I just wanted two slices of pepperoni.

I shook my head, and started towards the frozen food section.  And then I noticed the prepared foods/deli section next to the pizza.

As I said, I don’t often rock with Whole Foods, but I saw a sign that read,

1 Entree + 2 Sides = $9-$12

The young lady working behind the counter approached, and I said “Hey, how does this entree and sides deal work?”

And she walked me through it.  Pleasantly.  With a smile.  I don’t know if she could sense I was having a bad day, but she took the time to lay out all the options, and I was like “wow!”

In retrospect, I was suddenly way more excited about food than I should have been…but I think I was much more uplifted by her positive disposition.  So, I decided on cheese lasagna, garlic and parsley green beans, and smoked mozzarella pasta.

The young lady, Brandy, was tickled by my excitement.  And I was genuinely excited to some degree. I walked in to get pizza, and was walking out with a real meal.

“Wow.  I’m excited.  Brandy, you are the best!”

“Well thank you!”

“I think you’ll definitely be seeing more of me.  I think we’re going to be good friends!”

“I look forward to it!”

And with that, a positive interaction completely lifted my day.  My week.  It might have been my first genuine smile of the week.

I’m going to send a letter to Whole Foods to thank them for the amazing customer service that Brandy provided.  Having worked in retail, I know that small gestures like that really matter, and I know that it can sometimes be hard to offer that kind of human touch…but I was genuinely grateful.

I went home, warmed up my food, sat at the table, and had dinner, with a much lighter disposition.  And to add the cherry on top, the food was enough for two separate meals, one of which I’ll be having today for lunch.  #Winning

It’s so very true, that it’s often the little things that mean the very much.

Thanks Brandy!

So when was the last really positive interaction you had with someone?

Or, blow your own horn.  When was the last time you totally lifted someone else’s day?

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Father’s Day

Hello WordPress…I’m back.

I feel like a husband who left his wife for a mistress, and then after he’s had his fun, he comes crawling back.

Here I am.  Will you accept me?

Today is Father’s Day.  I always get down in the dumps on Father’s Day.  I don’t ever really think about it until all the “Happy Father’s Day!”  start flying around.  I lost my father years ago.  13 or so at this juncture.

I miss my dad.  A lot.  Every day.  But especially today, when everyone is posting pictures, and talking about how fabulous their father is, etc, etc, etc.

And so it goes.  I didn’t do much today.  I’m in the midst of riding 860 miles this month for the Great Cycle Challenge, which raises money for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. I’ve currently raised $940 dollars, and committed myself to riding 860 miles in solidarity.  So far this month I’ve ridden 458 miles.  I got 402 to go.

During my ride yesterday, I knew I had a leak, but fortunately I made it home.  Unfortunately, I woke up to a flat today.  Fortunately, Small Shop Cycles is open on Sunday, and I was able to go in and get a quick innertube replacement.  I also got a chain cleaning kit, and some other materials to clean my bike, which I did this evening.  It’s far from perfect (could really use a hose), but it looks pretty good, and the chain, derailleurs and my cassette and rings are all clean.  And lubed.  I also discovered that one of me pedals was falling apart, which I fixed.  Both pedals were loose actually, so glad I caught that before I got stranded somewhere.

Beyond that, I recorded my first podcast this weekend, with a friend who was in town, Sarah.  She crashed on my couch, which was cool.  It was the first time seeing her in 19 years.  It was great to catch up, and I’m glad I was able to save her some money, especially in this town.  Love this town, but it for damn sure ain’t cheap, and that includes hotels and Air B&B’s.

And here I am.  Waiting for my chili in my slow cooker, watching Gran Torino, hoping that it doesn’t rain tomorrow (it’s not supposed to rain tomorrow, but this weather has been crazy and atrocious), and hoping I can get some extra miles in tomorrow.  I’ve been slacking on miles the past few days.  Hoping the rest does the legs good, because it’s been hell on my motivation.

I did talk to one of my two daughters today though.  That was the highlight of my day.  They’re soon to be 14, such a strange time for your girls, and I feel the distance between us growing much further than the few hundred miles between Chicago and Florida.  A constant source of depression.

I gotta figure it out.

How was your Father’s Day?   Did you get to spend time with your dad?  Are you a Father?  Did you spend time with the fam?  Lets hear how your day was in the comments down below.

Step 2, if you liked what you read here, SHARE IT WITH OTHERS!!!! 

Also, be sure to know every time I post a new entry by subscribing! Also, you can check out Reflections of a Chicago Life on Facebook.  I post a lot of articles and we can have some wicked discussions on there. Be sure to click “Like”. You can also check me out on Twitter, and see all the things I see around the city on Instagram, and it still bears repeating…it’s important to have STANDARDS!!

This post was created on a  HP Pavilion x360.
I hate this computer. 

Random thoughts on a random night

As far back as I can remember, I’ve hated sleeping.

I can remember, back in the day when such a thing occurred, playing with my toys until the American flag popped up on the screen, accompanied by the national anthem. Following that, the screen would go snowy white, with the sound of static.

I spent lots of time playing in the light of a snowy white screen.

My father would often fall asleep in a chair near the television. He would settle me down next to him, sometimes on him, thinking I would drift off to sleep with him.

Sometimes I did, and often times I didn’t. But eventually, with no real stimulus, I would settle down to sleep. As a teenager, my disdain for sleep didn’t improve much. After my mother would make me go to bed, I would often lie in bed reading. I was a voracious reader as a teen, particularly partial to Stephen King books…with an especial affinity for his short stories.

Once my mother got hip to me reading in bed, I would go in the bathroom and sit on the toilet, reading page after page. Sometimes, I would literally fall asleep there on the toilet, in the bathroom, book in hand, only to jar myself awake, book on the floor, or even worse, to banging on the door, “What are you doing in there?”

Masturbating. The answer is always masturbating. 😉

I suppose over the years, I thought I would grow out of my “youthful exuberance,” and grow into a healthier relationship with sleep…

…but I haven’t.

Fuck sleep.

I remember years ago, living with a woman I was dating. Now, she was a sleeper. A solid 8-hour sleeper. She liked it when I went to bed with her, which I would. And, as soon as she drifted off to sleep, I would slide out of bed and go watch a movie, or surf online, or read, or…

Then, I joined the military, and if you’ve ever needed a lover who would enable your worst habits and tendencies, the Army will oblige you. I cannot speak, with direct knowledge, of other branches of the military,  but the Army definitely appreciates modern chemistry as a force enabler. You need caffeine? They got your caffeine. When I was in Afghanistan, you could literally walk out of the chow hall with cases of Rip It, and get it in. Coincidentally, while in Afghanistan, I had a caffeine overdose situation. But, it was so much easier to fuel up that way, rather than face the pillow.

Additionally, the less you sleep, the better of a soldier you are. The Army wants machines. I generally operated on 4 hours of sleep, a habit I maintained for years. I also learned the magic that is power naps.

I will say that in isolated situations, I like sleep. Many years ago, I dated a woman named Mirinda.  Man, I was all about her.  Now she was a sleeper.  She was one of those people that had a huge glorious bed, with a countless number of pillows, made to drown in.  She would talk about sleep the way a sommelier might describe a choice vintage, savoring the experience.

One thing we could agree on was taking midday naps, particularly in the summer.  She was a huge air conditioning person, and would jack it up until her bedroom was like an ice box.  With the summer sun dancing around us, we would climb into bed, and spoon, until we drifted off to sleep.  Sometimes we would wake up, intertwined, commence to making the most pleasurable of love, and then go back in for another hour or two of nap time.

I enjoyed that.  While I hate sleeping, I do enjoy closeness and intimacy.  There is something about feeling someone else’s skin against yours, hearing their heart beat, listening to their breathing in a quiet room…occasionally, watching their serene face as they drift off, or as they dream.  Those times, those experiences, make the otherwise waste of time worth it.

If I should ever find myself married, or at least long term intertwined with someone, I think they would have to be an incessant cuddler.  That’s one of the few activities that I will willingly slow myself down for. It brings peace of mind…and heart…let’s not forget that cuddling is good for you. 

So what about you all, what is your relationship with sleep?  Do you sleep a lot?  How many hours do you require to function?  Would love to hear all of your thoughts.

Now, first and foremost, if you liked what you read here, SHARE IT WITH OTHERS!!!  Step 2, comment below!  I want to hear your thoughts.  Also, be sure to know every time I post a new entry by subscribing!  Also, you can check out Reflections of a Chicago Life on Facebook. I post a lot of articles and we can have some wicked discussions on there. Be sure to click “Like”. You can also check me out on Twitter, and see all the things I see around the city on Instagram, and it still bears repeating…it’s important to have STANDARDS!!

This post was created on my brand new HP Pavilion x360.

I’m coming up in the world. 

The Death of the Nice Guy

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1536229813255619
Courtesy of Epic Videos

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the above video on Youtube, so I included a link to the video on Facebook, which you all may or may not be able to view. So, allow me to offer you a brief synopsis:

A female Applebee’s employee with an attractive physical form (her face is blocked by a black bar) is outside her place of employment handing out coupons for a drink special they are having. A guy, modestly dressed, definitely a bit geeky, approaches her. He appears to be nice, intelligent (mentions a fact about the heat that he read in the days paper), and respectful. He compliments her and asks her if he can have her phone number. The next thing you hear is the resounding thud as he is shot out of the sky after several attempts, even offering just to take her out as friends.

So, up comes another guy, nowhere near as smartly dressed, and starts off the conversation with

“Yo, what’s good ma?”

From there he’s skinning and grinning, complimenting her “Does the free drink come with you? You teasing me ma! You look good. You look as good as a drumstick.”

So, he proceeds to entice her up the street to a secluded spot, where they exchange a few kisses, and finally end with a handjob, where he nearly entices her to lick the tip.

A HANDJOB?!?!?!?!

LICK THE TIP?!?!?!?!?

So, after busting in her hand, the guy takes off his sunglasses and do rag, revealing he’s the geeky guy from earlier. He then tells her she’s been exposed as a shallow, crazy chick who wouldn’t give her number to a nice guy, but will beat off a thug.

Now, I have no idea if the video is authentic or staged.  Nor do I know it’s origin, but I do know it’s real, because I’ve fucking lived it.

I like to think of myself s a pretty nice guy. I have my faults, dear lord do I have faults. But I always try my best to treat those around me with respect, especially women. And no, I’m not always successful, but it’s something I strive for.

And in the past, I have been accused by women I was getting acquainted with that I was “too nice.”

Well excuse me for not asking you to beat me off between the salad and the main course.

I’ve also seen guys, some of them uncouth, some of them downright dirtbags  approach the exact same women, with astounding success.

I’ve even done. I’ve put a couple of drinks in, and set out to just be that dude that I pretty much hate, and before you know it, the women are begging to go home with you.

Really?!?!?!?!

Hmm… after a while, you have to start to believe the trend, and perhaps offer a moment of silence to the nice guy.

Courtesy of: bottledupthoughtsandfeelings.blogspot.com

Courtesy of: bottledupthoughtsandfeelings.blogspot.com

Courtesy of: smartshoes.blogspot.com

Courtesy of: smartshoes.blogspot.com

We may not be the most fashion forward individuals. We may not even be dripping with sex appeal and machismo… but hot damn it, we’ve got charisma, and we’re nice… and nice ain’t half bad.

  • We won’t cheat on you.
  • We won’t hit on your friends behind your back.
  • We will treat you with dignity, honor, and respect, and as an equal, and not a possession or commodity.

I simply think about the women I KNOW and the tales of douchebaggery I’VE HEARD, and it boggles my mind.

And I’m the single one.

Well, that is probably for the best, because tomfoolery and I shall not be bedmates…

SHALL NOT BE BEDMATES!!!

So guys, have you noticed this trend as well?

Ladies, have you found yourself passing up on “nice guys” to date a “bad boy”, or a nice “fixer-upper” of a guy?

Lust and Resentment

I love those moments when someone says the things you are thinking I your head perfectly… or provides you with a perspective that truly clarifies an outlook for you.

dansavage_121212Dan Savage often does that for me.

Let me start by saying that if you don’t listen to The Savage Lovecast, you should. It’s a  podcast version of Dan’s advice column, Savage Love.  There are 2 versions of it, the micro (free, 49 minutes with ads) and the magnum (paid, 82 minutes without ads). I will one Da subscribe, but for now I’m stuck with the micro version.  However, it’s a great, insightful show.

Anyway, recently Dan commented on the whole nude photo scandal including Jennifer Lawrence and a slew of other celebrities. I wholeheartedly agree with his opinion, and think he made some fabulous points.

  1. It’s horrible that they’re privacy was invaded.
  2. Fuck those people who say you shouldn’t take naked pictures of yourself if you don’t want them spread around. It’s not like they were sharing them, their phones and such were hacked and their privacy invaded.
  3. We have a  sick relationship with celebrities, it’s a combo platter of lust and resentment, which is one of the reasons we punish pornstars (while the porn industry is one of the single biggest money-making industries in the United States might I remind you) and we sometimes delight in seeing celebrities fall and fail.Dan explores this point further and I advise you check it out.
  4. Furthermore, it will be a great day when we all have “dirty” pictures online. The human body is beautiful; the naked form is beautiful and should be celebrated. It’s not something that should be hidden, and shamed. It will be a great time when someone can play “gotcha” with this kind of shit.

Oh, I have a dick? And you saw it?

I sext, and you found out?

Why yes, I have recorded sexual encounters, and no it’s not a big deal.

It’s a pretty ridiculous, and a huge fuck you to those who shamed the victims of this incident rather than the hackers. I’m also sharing a video that a friend sent me. I thin it relates well to this topic of unhealthy sexual outlook that we harbor in our society.

Grow the fuck up…

…and puritans eat my snatch.

Gallery

North Coast Music Festival

So many of you will know that I have generally turned my nose up at EDM in the past. Well I had an amazing time at North Coast Music Festival this weekend serving beer. While I saw a few crap bands, I saw some amazing ones too, and DJ’s. A few thoughts on live performances:

1) If everyone on the stage isn’t having more fun and sweating more than I am, I can’t fux wit you.
2) a band of questionable talent can sell it with a high energy show. Go figure!
3) I saw some DJ’s who performed better than some rock bands I’ve seen.

My mind was blown, and I’ll definitely be checking out this festival again in the future.

So here is a few of the sights and sounds from the festival.  I also wish that the sound actually did the performers justice.  Let me assure you the bass was amazing!!!

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The Nameless

Many years ago…what seems like a lifetime ago, I sang in a metal band. One of the last tunes we wrote was a song about homeless people. Very simple, and I called it The Nameless. I chose that title because homeless people often seem like nameless sentient beings, just floating through space. We often don’t recognize them, disregard them. We as a society get so caught up in the fast flow of life, that we don’t even bother to make eye contact with them, pass them by, and will sometimes label them as a nuisance, or a bother , rather than a person in need of help, in need of empathy. Please don’t misinterpret these words in a sense that I haven’t done these things. I have. I try not to, but I get caught up too. But, I’ve had times of sitting with homeless cats on a corner, and just rapping and shooting the shit, hearing their stories. Ultimately, I think that’s what many of us want; to have our story told. To have our voice heard, and to not be…nameless.

These thoughts all came into my head as the woman sat next to me. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Serendipity, my mind was already in a spin. Then the rain drove me to take cover at the bus stop, fearing the inclement weather would put me in a dangerous spot on my bicycle, with slick roads and impaired visibility to motorists.

The bus came by, and after exiting the bus, the woman ambled over to me and took a seat. The air around me immediately took on the scent of alcohol. She was a black woman, older , I’d put her in her 50’s perhaps. Well greyed hair, close cut and under a red baseball cap. Her clothes were dirty. She had a can in a brown paper bag that I later found to be an Icehouse.

She didn’t make eye contact. She just kind of turned her face towards me, but our gazes never met. She was clearly intoxicated. She leaned over and said, “Can I tell you something?”
“Of course” I said.

“I was in the Army.” “I saw things that no one should have to see.”

Her speech wasn’t clear at all times, but she told me how her experiences in the Army messed with her head. She recalled some instances…

“I always did my best…And we never left a man behind. We always brought them back.”

I never interrupted her. Only nodded and offered verbal agreements. She didn’t ‘t know this, but I understood perfectly everything she was saying.

As I looked at her face, listening to her story, tears began running down my cheeks. As I looked in her face, I just could see that her mind was gone. She wasn’t in the same time , or the same place that I was. That thought made my heart ache so badly.

This lady could be my mom. She could be someone’s mom. I looked down at the ground, not wanting her to see me cry. I couldn’t speak, I just listened, staring at her can of Icehouse.

When I was younger, I never could understand why homeless people would turn to vice…drugs and alcohol. I never could understand why you would make a bad situation worse.

I get it now. Not wanting to face life lucidly. Needing something to soften the edges of reality. I know that feeling all too well.

Many years ago, in what seems also, like a different lifetime, I attempted suicide. Very few people in my life know this. I’ve always guarded that secret . It’s something that I’ve always found shame in. But, I now know that it was a wake up call for me to change my life, which I did. I can relate so very well to the feeling of simply not feeling like you can face life. I tried vice too. For me, vice wasn’t even strong enough.

All of these thoughts swirled into my head as I looked into this woman’s face, and so many questions.
“Are you homeless?”
“How will you get out of the rain?”
“Do you have family? Where are they?”

But I didn’t ask. It was time for her to tell her story, as she chose to tell it.

Finally, I spoke up.
“I gotta get going ” was all I could muster, wiping the tears from my cheeks.

As I stood up, and waved goodbye meekly, she made eye contact with me for the first time.
“Bye”
“God Bless You Sister. Bye.

I wanted to do more. I should’ve said more.

And as I rode off, I thought about how appalling it is that we give billions of dollars to other countries, and yet I rode pass people under underpasses, awnings, and alleys trying to find a dry place to sleep. It’s not right. You’ll never be able to rationalize it to me . We could do better. We should do better. She should be enjoying her twilight years in a warm place, surrounded by love, not sitting on a cold bus stop in a rainstorm with me. It infuriates me now just thinking about it.

Also, as I rode home, I recognized how that experience served as a reminder. I was at a place today where I was beginning to feel bad for myself. At this point, I’m technically unemployed. Hustling up money to pay bills. Dealing with issues with my daughters…

…and I’ve been reminded that I’m ok. I have my mind, and my health. If I keep my head up, I’ll figure it out, and I’ll be ok. In the grand scheme of life, my problems are minuscule, and I feel ashamed for even being so self indulgent.

And so here I sit. I feel emotionally drained. I’m gonna go lie down, and I know that the sun will bring a brighter day. The woman will be on my mind. I hope she is ok.

Life is strange sometimes.

Serendipity

 

serendipity3Life is strange sometimes. As I’ve said before, I’m not sure which set of religious beliefs I’m willing to subscribe to. I do however believe in some variation of Karma. It just often seems like things are too coincidental to be simple happenstance. Thus, the serendipitous nature of life.

I started off the evening at a movie with great company. I chose to ride my bike instead of drive, despite the threat of rain. We saw an advanced screening (The Hundred Foot Journey) which left my mind in an absolute swirl of thought. I hopped on my bike and got about a block until the sky opened up. Two blocks later I stopped at a covered bus stop. I sat there for a bit until a bus came. A few people got off the bus, including an older woman who came over and sat next to me.

We only sat there for about 5 mins, but this was a very serendipitous experience that I will blog about shortly. From there, I pedaled onward in the downpour. About a mile further, something in my brain told me to stop again. I did, and not even a minute later saw an old battle buddy I hadn’t seen since getting back from Afghanistan. That experience brought a smile to my face and helped me find some equilibrium. From there I pedaled on home, and here I am.

My mind is still in a blur. I’ll sort it all out in due time. Now, I know this isn’t the first time that someone told you that life is serendipitous. However, sometimes we all need a reminder.  A reminder that life is out there to be lived, and if you go out to meet it, it will certainly meet you.  Namaste.

Speechless

Wow, time marches on.  It doesn’t wait for anyone…and yet we push ourselves to the ends of our existence, to get a larger piece of it.  Strange…no?  

Well…about 2 weeks back, I had an experience that left me speechless…which is pretty hard for me.  It also left me with a lot to think about in terms of perspective, and life.  

So, as some of you know, I’m a driver for the Lyft ride-share community, or a Lyfter.  Not familiar with it?  Google it.  It’s a new-ish service at the forefront of the sharing economy.  

Not familiar with that term, well allow me:

The sharing economy (aka the share economy, the shared economy, the mesh or the collaborative economy) refers to economic and social systems that enable shared access to goods, services, data and talent. These systems take a variety of forms but all leverage information technology to empower individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services.[1] A common premise is that when information about goods is shared, the value of those goods increases, for the business, for individuals, and for the community.[2]

Source: Wikipedia – The Sharing Economy

So, I was out and about Lyfting, and I picked up a guy and 2 of his friends.  We’ll just call him the guy.  So, they were out and about, having a good night, drinking, etc.  So, we drop the 2 friends off, and I’m taking the guy to his address, which is probably about 15 minutes away. 

We’re chit chatting, and he is offhandedly saying, “Man, I love my friends.”  I’m attributing this sentimentality to the residual effects of alcohol consumption.  He then looks over at me and says, “Can I tell you something?”  

“Of course you can” I replied.  I like to think I’m a good listener…at least some of the time.  I then waited to see what he was going to say.  I was expecting something along the lines of “I came out to my friends today” or something along those lines, when he quietly said,

“I’m dying.”  

“You mean in the Sylvia Plath sense of we are all dying one second at a time, or do you mean faster than the rest of us?”

“I have cancer.  I’m dying.”  

Wow.  What do you say to that?  What can you say to that?  So, I just sat, and listened.  

He was silent.  I said “Well, treatments are getting so much better these days. So much more effective.”  

“Yeah” he said, “but mine isn’t working.  My treatment isn’t working, and my condition is getting worse, and no one knows….but you.”

And there in lies the crux of what this guy was experiencing.  His friends had taken him out that evening to see his favorite band, and when to some of his favorite bars, and he didn’t have it in him to tell them that his radiation treatments and medication were having no effect on his cancer. 

“Not even my mother knows.  I just can’t tell her.”  

Wow.  I felt the gravity in the car seem to increase tenfold.  That explained the bald head, and the haggard look, even though a few minutes earlier, he was obviously in a state of joy.  

“You’re probably not gonna Lyft me any  more after this”

“Don’t be silly my friend, you’re an awesome guy, and you’re gonna give me a big fat tip because I’m awesome, so why wouldn’t I Lyft you again.”  

Conversation went on.  He told me about the copious amounts of medications he had to take, and the pain.  “It hurts so bad, every day.”  

I teared up at moments, but held my composure, because I felt at that moment, he needed someone to be strong.  

We neared his house, and we sat in front of his house talking a few more minutes.  He confessed that the only reason he hadn’t taken his own life was because of the effect it would have on his mother.  That would be the only thing worse than her having to see him succumb to his sickness.  

As he exited my car, I tried to think of something that could possibly lift the mood, end it at least on an even keel, all I had to offer was “I’ll see you next time my friend.”  

He then looked at me, and tears started streaming down his face, and he said “I hope so…I hope so.”  

Speechless.  

Be thankful/Be humble

I’m a firm believer that a central purpose if life is to make connections with others. Scratch that…to make POSITIVE connections with others. We make many of them, but so many of them are negative.
However, stop and think for a minute…and answer this question honestly:
“Do you connect with those people who have nothing to offer you?”
In that question, I mean, we so readily connect with people who have something we want; connections, money, sexual appeal….but what about those people who don’t readily have something material to offer us?
Here in Chicago, we have a lot of homeless people. I don’t know exact numbers, but a lot. Now, I’m not rolling in dough, but when I can, I try to give some change, or a dollar here and there. Over the years, as you take time, actually take time to stop and talk with some of these people, you can hear some amazing stories. Often depressing, often shocking, but very telling of that other side of society that many of us don’t see. How people fall through the cracks.
I’ll never forgot one night I started chatting with a homeless guy down in the Loop on Wabash, about 1 in the morning. He asked me what I do, and I mentioned that I had just gotten back from my deployment and was trying to figure out where I fit in.
He went into his pocket, and pulled out a military ID. Told me how after getting back from Iraq, his life basically fell apart from PTSD…and so on.
But recently, I had two interactions that reminded me of some things.
The first was on a bus stop. I was heading downtown, and waiting for the bus, sitting on a bench. An older gentleman, with a suitcase, obviously homeless, came over and sat next to me. He then pulled out a bottle of Maddog 20/20, and after taking a swig, offered me some. I declined, and then he asked me about the magazine I had at my side.
It was a Graciemag, a Jiu jitsu magazine. Something on the cover caught his eye, and I handed it to him. He flipped through the pages, and seemed genuinely interested in what he saw.
He then looked over to me and said, “You know who was a bad man?”
“Who?” I said, genuinely interested in what was to come.
“Bruce Lee! Did you know that when they filmed the Green Hornet, they had to slow down the film because he was too fast!”
I laughed. “Yeah, he was amazing for sure.”
“There’ll never be another one like him.”

A few nights ago, a woman asked me out for drinks. I said sure. I got ready to head out, but hadn’t had dinner, so I decided to stop and get something on the way. I happened to come across Arturo’s a 24 hour Mexican drunk hut. I parked, and was heading in, when a man stopped me.
“I hate to bother you man, but do you have a few dollars, so I can get some good. I’m out of work currently.”
I don’t carry cash usually, so I said, “I don’t have any cash, but I’m gonna get some food. Come on in with me.”
“Really?” He asked.
“Yeah, c’mon.”
So I ordered some food for me, and he ordered what he wanted, and as we waited, we sat and talked.
He said his name was Casper. He’d been working as a painter and carpenter when his car was stolen, with his wallet and phone in it.
“I was paid in cash, so it really hurt, because I lost my rent money, and then I was replaced at work.”
He mentioned he’d been in the U.S. since 1987, born in Mexico.
” I learned English in Mexico, and then learned more here. I also have learned some polish, and I like learning that.”
“Polish?” I asked.
“Yeah, some of the guys I worked with were Polish, so they would teach me the language while we worked,” and he then exhibited some of his skills for me.
He then said something very interesting.
“Back in ’87 and the ’90’s, if you needed a job, you’d apply to a few, and boom, you could get one fast. It’s not like that anymore. You can, apply, and apply, and apply, and hear nothing.”
Wow…that says a lot right?
While at the time it didn’t ‘t occur to me, but I was having a shared moment with these gentlemen, exchanging thoughts and ideas…and I wonder how many people would never do that, simply because at first glance, they had nothing to offer, and even needed of us.
These moments reminded me to be thankful. I worry about so many things, but in reality, I have a roof over my head, food to put in my mouth, and people who care enough about me who would offer me either if I didn’t have them.
What have I to complain about?
And they reminded me to be humble, because in an instant, my situation could change, and I could be that person that people so readily will look past when I’m asking for a few bucks. Deep issues…deep thought…

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