While walking near downtown Sarasota, I saw a man on a shaded bench, bent over reading a book. I approached him and said “hello”, expecting that he would look up. And he did. My usual spiel was already on the tip of my tongue, so it came out as I realized that he had a facial defect. Asking such a person to allow me to photograph scares me, lest he think that I am attracted to the abnormality.
But Charlie could not have been more open and gracious. He (amazingly) had no reservation about being photographed. Two years ago, he had cancer surgery on his nose –I did not ask why there was not a cosmetic repair. I didn’t have to.
(click to enlarge)
Because he has been without work, and he feels that he is difficult to employ due to his appearance. But in no way did he seem bitter. He lives in a tent four miles from town and walks in every day. I asked why he does this – because his bike was stolen. Ugh. I asked why he came to town at all, and Charlie said that he still looks for work, and that he frequents the library. It turns out that we graduated from the same high school, seven years apart (I’m the old one). Also, he lived near me growing up, and we knew the same fishing spots.
Thank you Charlie, for being so open and genuine under difficult circumstances. I doubt that I would be the same. I am humbled.