Bob was sitting in the outdoor, covered area, of Smokin' Joe's Bar. When in the area (a lot) I always check out this spot – this seat. The light is always good. Bob was relaxed and chatty. He lived in Central Islip, Long Island, for 10 years. As a youngster, I lived about three miles away.
He relocated to Chicago, becoming a carpenter. At age 32 he started his own construction business. Over many years, the firm grew to 500 employees, and during the recent recession, it dwindled to 10. Now it's back to 50. Bob looked pained as he recounted all the good hard working men that he had to lay off. He still owns the business.
The layoffs segued into a discussion about the homeless in Sarasota. He shook his hear recounting how men that lost construction jobs could be on the streets like this. He first got a house in Sarasota in 1989, but used it little. Until six years ago, that is. Then he began living six months in Chicago and six in Sarasota. We passed on the street yesterday and I got a hearty, “Hi, Bob.”