Donald played his harmonica on a street corner; a sign at his feet said “Marine Veteran”. An occasional passerby tossed a coin into his tip box. When he took a brief break, I carefully placed a piece of paper in the box and struck up a conversation.
When in the military, he was in a band, playing clarinet, but in a pinch he could play flute or sax. His father told him to stay in the Marines, but Donald got out after four years. Had he stayed in, he would have had a pension for over 10 years. Instead, he is homeless.
Donald showed me the Opinion Page of a local free newspaper. The topic was how the downtown homeless hurt business, and that money spent on human services was wasted. He was not bitter, although frustrated. He had been arrested three times in the past month. I will not detail the ‘crimes’ in deference to privacy, but suffice it to say that they were petty, and no one was harmed. Money spent through law enforcement efforts and the courts was probably wasted.
But Donald actually has a very realistic, if not totally optimistic, outlook. He used to live in Michigan, and sleeping outdoors in Florida is a LOT nicer.
I cannot overstate how well Donald spoke. He liked his image on the camera’s LCD, but has no access to the Internet. I sent him a print, care of Resurrection House, a nearby central resource for the homeless.
Sometimes, Dads are not so dumb – stay in the military.