I used to walk by him and wonder what his deal was. He sat on Lexington Ave between 58th and 59th Streets almost everyday with his cardboard sign. I once gave him a peach and a look of gratefulness appeared on his face as he devoured it immediately. I remember wishing he had wiped the peach before inhaling it like that. Who knows what pesticides were on the skin. A few days after the peach incident, I found out who Michael was. I finally heard his story. About 7 months ago, his girlfriend of 8 or 9 years cheated on him and kicked him out of the apartment. He was working as a driver for her dad's company, and when things didn't work out with her, the dad also let him go. Just like that. No job, no girlfriend, no home. Homeless for the first time in his life. I bet he never thought he'd be there on Lexington Avenue holding that cardboard sign.

A while back I gave him an intake card for The Doe Fund. He didn't strike me as one who would be willing to sweep the streets. But I figured I'd give it to him just in case he got desperate. This past weekend, he made the decision to call the intake number. I was happy for his decision. He was going nowhere. No shower to clean up for an interview. No mailing address to put down on a job application. He told me he was ready to push the bucket. I once heard someone describe the job like this: "we all know that when you're out pushing the bucket, you're learning a whole lot more than how to sweep streets." I hope that's true for Michael.


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