Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Hey Mister, can Ya Spare a Buck?"

                                I chatted with Andrew today.
       Andrew photo by M Barrett Miller
Andrew tends to hold down the corner of 50th and Roosevelt, just a tad west of the University of Washington. 

Andrew came to the states after things began to go badly in Poland after the heady Solidarity days.
He is 62, from a little village about 30 clicks south of Kraków, home of Karol Wojtyła, and other notables.

As you can see from Andrew's sign he has a few challenges.
He has spent years in the "food service industry" working in various positions here and in N.Y. (that industry has the two lowest wages, and fewest benefits, of all jobs in the USA).
His arthritis has crippled him to the point where he can't hold down a job that requires much body movement. 

In addition to that he has prostate cancer requiring fairly constant medical attention. He is being seen by doctors at Virginia - Mason though his insurance only covers roughly 30% of his costs. 

He's been on the streets for the last seven months scratching out enough to pay some of his med bills in addition to his one room apt, food etc.

Andrew and I talked about Poland, Elie Wiesel, Szweykowski, Grabski and Walesa's time at the Lenin Shipyards where he raised so much hell-we talked about Auschwitz and Buna and the people who survived it...
We talked about the insanity of it all.
We talked about standing on a street corner hoping the next driver will reach out a helping hand.

I offer this mini story, as "these people" are people who deserve our support in any way we can offer it.
They are us in other clothing-
They don’t deserve to be put through hoops any more than anyone who is not carrying such challenges.
For those that have not spent much time around people on the streets you may find you enjoy the reality of your conversations.
I will go back and visit with him again this weekend. I will probably shoot a bit of video to add to the "Am I the Face of Homelessness" series that I've been doing since forever.....

Its so nice to have so many opportunities to meet so many people just standing there waiting for us…

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