Tonight at the grocery store, I happened to glance at the newspapers as I was leaving. The headline of the G-town Mercury read, "Rags to Riches," and I had a cynical moment of yeah whatever, thinking of the people at the drop-in centre. A familiar name floated in through my cynicism... I looked closer at the paper and stopped dead. Not only a familiar face, but a familiar photo. My photo! On the front page!
There was no photo credit; it said only "submitted photo." The reproduction was lousy, and I wondered why, figuring it had been stolen off flickr. I reread the headline, and realized that it had been submitted by the man himself. It feels right that I didn't get credit. It feels good that he liked the picture enough to share it with the paper, and it seems right that he doesn't know my name.
The story is about this man, the man that I didn't see for ages and ages and I worried he was dead, but finally saw at the drop-in centre a few months ago. The one I gave prints to just a couple of months ago.
This is one of the photos that I gave him, the one on the front page. Go read his story and come back. It's pretty cool.
You back? Good. I just want to point out a whole bunch of details and weird coincidences.
I shot the picture a year ago, almost exactly. I saw him a day or two after that, and then not again for a long time. I worried he was dead. Then finally I saw him at the drop-in centre in February. I figured he must have been hooked up with the drop-in centre all along. I remember thinking it was a bit strange that he panhandled when he was hooked up with the centre and Sister Christine paid for his coffees, but whatever. To each his own. I never really believed that he was actually homeless, but the article says he slept on the street for a whole decade.
Did you look at all three photos? The one with the cop who helped him? Well, that was the same cop who brought our family member to our house when she was evicted, the night before my first shift at the drop-in centre. I remember being mildly surprised with the kindness and respect of both cops, but scolded myself for succumbing to old stereotypes.
So to recap: I never go to the grocery store during the week and I never read the Mercury, so it was a fluke to even see my picture on the paper. It was a fluke that I had the courage to ask for his photo on that day, just days before the cop started helping him. It was kind of a fluke that I saw Rick at the drop-in centre, because he never comes on Sundays and I don't usually work Saturdays. It was a fluke that I gave him the prints less than two months before this story got printed. It was a fluke that our family member got evicted the night before I started volunteering at the drop-in centre. It was no fluke that the drop-in centre helped find her permanent housing because that's what they do. And of course, it's probably not really a fluke that the same cop who removed our family member helped this other person.
The world is a strange place, don't you think?
Weekend Reading: The Trying to Rally Edition
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