John (#473) 11-30-13

John was sitting alone on a park bench. A bicycle was next to the bench and a large sack was along his side, the classic sack of homelessness seen all too often. I stopped and explained 100 Strangers; John shrugged and had no reservations. I think that he appreciated the attention.

I took a few bursts of 3-4 images. In each shot, he was looking down. That's because John cannot raise his head to horizontal. A scar on his upper back and neck is deeply depressed, giving the surrounding soft tissue a buttock-like look. Seven months ago, a car knocked John off of his bike, fracturing vertebrae in his neck. The driver was under the influence and has been sentenced to six years in prison. John is due an insurance settlement, but has yet to receive it. So, for now, he is homeless.

After talking for several minutes, I handed him a few dollars: he said that he'd head to McDonalds for a meal. As we parted, he said, “Almost nobody cares, you care” as he got a bit misty. I too, had a slight lump in my throat – partly for seeing so many people in pain in such an affluent community, and partly thinking of how many times I have walked past people without acknowledging them. And realistically, I will often do that in the future too. Just can't stop and talk to everyone. It is emotionally draining.