#61 In Roads-Anyone’s fate


There’s a guy standing on the corner looking lost. He’s leaning against a post holding newspapers but he isn’t making eye contact or interacting with anyone. The crowds pass him as if he’s invisible. I step up and ask how much his paper is and he perks up some. His soft voice is barely audible so I step closer. He hands me a copy and tells me all about what a great read it is before he asks for the dollar.

I ask where he’s from and he pushes off from the post to stand tall before he launches into an explanation of how he came to be on the streets of Portland selling newspapers. Sandwiched between two young people holding signs announcing their homelessness, he tells me he’s a healer. He’s has clean clothes and hands.

“I’ve never begged or panhandled. I have an education. I had a medical practice. I’m a father and I was, for a long time, a husband,” he tells me. “I had a really terrible divorce and my life just changed.” The 52 year old shrugs and closes his eyes but stays standing close to me.

“I caught a bus to California but discovered my schooling meant nothing when I got there so I would have to start all over again. It never dawned on me that education requirements would be so different state to state. I was just thinking California sunshine, you know? I got depressed. I mean, really depressed and I just shut down. My kids were mad at me, my family didn’t get it and I just disappeared.” We talk about his time in the street and the outreach program he’s in that help get him his own apartment and the vendor job he has now. As an independent contractor he buys his papers for a quarter then sells them for a dollar. He’s proud of the direction his life is going. “My family all keeps in touch with me now. Except my daughter, she’s still mad at me but my son will text. My sister calls.” He smiles. We reach out and hug each other tightly. I wish him good luck. He wishes me the same.


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