Were it not for this website, I certainly would not have interacted with the many homeless whom I have in my travels throughout New York City. And I would have concluded, as most have, that their state is a product of lifelong misdoings, drug use, or sheer laziness.
However, many homeless are quite ambitious, and many of the features I have done here illustrate that very clearly. Others, like Hakan Onor, whom I plan on doing a documentary on, have extraordinary stories and backgrounds, often which beg credibility.
Recently, on a short subway ride, a man entered our car and, like others, proceeded with a rehearsed solicitation, something that most regular commuters find particularly annoying. Not only do most feel such diatribes to be audibly disturbing, the spiels are also typically viewed with extreme skepticism, with claims and representations dismissed as just being part of another flavor of a New York City hustle or scam for money.
I gave the man a dollar and introduced myself, telling him of my blog. We only had a few seconds. I learned his name, Tommy, that he was from New Jersey, that he was not a drug user, but, like many in his plight, was mentally disabled. He told me that he was schizophrenic and bipolar and that he typically goes on and off medications. He explained that the side effects from his various medications become intolerable, resulting in his discontinuing their use.
Thus, his life becomes a roller coaster. This type of scenario can often be evidenced by the dramatically changing wardrobe and hygiene of many homeless, given that one is privy to seeing them on an ongoing basis. They are in and out of drug rehab or in and out of psychiatric treatment. I have seen the aforementioned Hakan looking extraordinarily nice in a sport jacket, well-groomed and sprightly, yet at other times barely able to function, pushing his belongings in a shopping cart, looking no better than Stephanie or Morgan on a bad day. Or, perhaps, they are all bad days, and the good days are just an illusion to the outsider. I forgot to Ask Tommy...
Related Posts: Looking for an Angel, Usually. Maybe. Probably Not, Sleeping in Jeans, Homeless Art Scene.