Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good Luck, Brandon

One reason I like to freelance at TBWA Chiat/Day is that they pay overtime on weekends. This is a good policy, as Saturdays and Sundays are worth more than the other days of the week.

I wish they would recompense the staffers who are asked to work weekends and nights, but that's no longer my battle.

About a month ago, I was at the Playa Vista office on a Saturday morning. As I was on my way to the car to pick up some lunch, I was stopped by a black homeless guy with a big duffel bag slung over his shoulder.

"Is this the way to Inglewood Ave. library?" he asked.

This was odd. As you can see from this map 5353 Grosvenor is not exactly a place you expect to encounter homeless people.

It butts up against the Marina Freeway and the street is literally a dead end.
Clearly this guy was lost.
And I was about to find out how lost.

He was a young guy and appeared quite lucid so I decided to have a chat with him.

Turns out he, Brandon, had moved here from Arizona -- I didn't think black people lived in Arizona -- I also didn't think there were black men named Brandon -- and he wanted to get to the library to research a project he had in his head.

"But what are your plans?" I asked, "cause you can't live on the streets forever. You have to think long term and what you want to do with your life." 

I might have come off a little preachy but he seemed in need of some paternal advice and fate had brought the two of us together. And since my daughters never listen to me, I seized the moment.

We talked some more, because I rarely take the time to actually chat with homeless people and I was genuinely curious about how someone finds themselves in this kind of position.

Then I did something I also rarely do, I told him to get in the car and I gave him a ride to Inglewood Ave. Before he got out of the car and because I was feeling particularly generous that day (being on golden time and such) I peeled off forty bucks to make his day a little easier.

My wife thinks I'm crazy and rolled her eyes, as she often does, when I told her of what had transpired.

And now I'm beginning to regret my actions. Not because I put my life in jeopardy, truth is I was much bigger than this guy and could have cleaned his clock had he decided to turn on me. Besides, helping less fortunate people is never the wrong thing to do.

My regret stems from the fact that it's now been more than a month after the encounter and I still can't get the Brandon B.O. out of my Lexus.

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