The Hustler (#425) 10-01-13

Fred hustled me. I've been hustled by strangers before, but Fred is a pro.

I was standing in front of a bookstore in Gainesville, FL, with a friend, while our wives shopped inside. Suddenly, like magic, Fred was between us on his bicycle. Before we realized he was there, he had positioned himself so that he could address both of us, with his feet spread, balancing the bike. He immediately asked if we could help him with lunch - he was hungry. Camera in hand, I was prepared for this eventuality.

I said, "I'll make you a deal. I belong to a camera group called 100 Strangers, and my job is to meet and photograph people who I haven't met before. Can I meet you and take your picture?" As I said this, I handed him a few $$$. He shrugged and said "Sure." So I asked him not to smile for the camera and got a few pics.

Fred lives in Gainesville, but was clearly ill at ease answering questions. I started to say something else, but he quickly picked up his feet and peddled away.

I've had homeless men ask for money, but when I comply and get a portrait, they usually are eager to talk for a while. Fred had no such interest. Maybe he had a monetary quota, so many dollars per hour.

I like the portrait, but the encounter was a bit wanting.