Monday, April 21, 2008

Miami Mondays: Homeless People!

If New York has the smartest homeless people in the country, then Miami has the friendliest. It makes sense: After all, bums in Miami have had the good fortune of being homeless in a tropical paradise. Just the other day when Brooke and I were at the beach, a homeless guy came walking down the shoreline, trudged onto the sand, plopped his house-bag down and just laid there in the sun. EXACTLY LIKE ME AND BROOKE. I mean, that’s what people come to Miami to do – lay on the beach. And when Brooke and I had to go home to do some work? The homeless guy got to stay! Because he had nothing else to do.

The only problem with this laid-back homeless mentality is that it’s not the best attitude for begging for money. In New York, homeless people will sing, tell you a story, make pretend to be crippled, put a cat in a baby stroller – anything to garner a sympathetic buck. They’re always thinking of entrepreneurial ways to get by, like collecting cans for recycling or robbing other bums while they sleep.

In Miami? Not so much. I was walking down the street the other day and passed a homeless guy in a wheelchair. As I approached, he made eye contact with me and said hello. I prepared my stock “I’m sorry, I don’t have any change” line, except that was all he did – just said hello. Didn’t ask for change, or say he was a WWII veteran or that he lost all his money to diabetes. Just hello. Now I’m not sure if he just forgot to beg, or if he was just a very poorly dressed economically stable elderly man, but either way it was both refreshing and a bit disconcerting – mostly for the New York homeless people. It seems like they’re working so hard to get by, and here in Miami it’s like a homeless vacation resort. And sure, all the New York homeless could just walk down here (what else have they got to do?), but then it would turn into a homeless convention, and everyone knows that once the bums get organized, they’ll take over the world.

And the whole reason that I’m writing this is because, as I type, there is a homeless woman sitting next to me at a table outside Starbucks. I was just sitting here, sipping my iced coffee and typing away, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman approaching. “Are you using this chair?” she asked, and without really looking up I replied, “No, it’s all yours.” But instead of taking it away to another table, she just sat down next to me. Not even across from me. Next to me. The thing is, she wasn’t obviously homeless. She was deceptively homeless. And the reality of the situation didn’t hit me until she offered me a potato chip with some onion dip out of a jar, and I looked up to say no thanks and got a good look at her: dirty hair, cropped men’s pants, two crazy eyes with one slightly crazier than the other. Then it hit me: the smell.

Homeless people have a distinct odor. I imagine it is the same smell that actors make pretend to be smelling when they walk into a grizzly crime scene on TV. And here it was, sitting next to me in the warm sun, offering me a potato chip.

So I finished typing this just to not be rude, and now I am going to leave, my nose quivering with stink. But let it be noted: Although she offended most every one of my five senses, she never asked for anything from me. That’s homeless . . . Miami-style.

25 Comments:

Blogger Scott said...

Alright, I gotta know. You find that homeless person photo online or did you yourself seriously take a photograph of a actual sleeping homeless person.

April 21, 2008 at 4:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Scott said...

I hate when I forget to use question marks.

April 21, 2008 at 4:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Scott said...

... and a instead of an. I'm drunk.

April 21, 2008 at 4:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Arielle said...

That is totally ridiculous but I kind of appreciate it. I hate when hobos get all up in my grill in Manhattan. Though when they do the passive/aggressive performing for money, I guess it's not so bad.

April 21, 2008 at 5:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger WiscoBlonde said...

Miami Mondays are the highlight of my mondays.

Not sure if you should be flattered or just feel bad for me....

April 21, 2008 at 6:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Poodle said...

i always said that if i found myself homeless i would beg till i had enough money to go to miami and then just lay in the sun

April 21, 2008 at 7:00:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real question is did you take the chip?

Don't lie to me.

April 21, 2008 at 9:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger sid said...

I know all to well what you mean by the smell. Stood behind a homeless guy once in the store. Not nice.

April 22, 2008 at 5:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Bill From Gainesville said...

Homeless people that live in the south are just smarter then the homeless people that live in the north. If you are going to go around and NOT have a home, then you should do it where it is rarely ever cold. Key West Homeless people are like the masters of the homeless people.

April 22, 2008 at 7:26:00 AM EDT  
Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

Yeah, being from NYC, I think homeless people are more ambitious there.

Although I never understood why they wouldn't be homeless in a place like Miami instead. Panhandling your way from city to city (by saving a little from your booze money and buying greyhound tix is feasible, right). They could even walk to Miami if given enough time (and let's face it, it's not like they have places to be).

April 22, 2008 at 3:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Faith said...

Not just the potato chip, man...but with onion dip as well.

THAT is some homeless class right there.

April 22, 2008 at 3:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger nycaboo said...

oh Im in miami this week...I feel like you've preped this west coaster well

April 22, 2008 at 4:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger SAILOR MOON said...

i think they take the saying "beach bum" literally

April 22, 2008 at 10:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger faithstwin said...

I have to agree with my Twinner, Faith: I was ok with the chip, but the fact that she had some dip to go with? That is a partay...minus the smell.

I live in a small town far away from major cities which means very little homeless activity. When we see one we tend to drive in circles and keep asking each other if we are ok over and over due to the confusion.

April 22, 2008 at 10:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Michemily said...

I just had to share this story. When I was in NY in February with a German friend, she tried to give a little change to everyone begging. She came up to me a little flustered one time and said, "That guy yelled, 'A nickel? I served in Vietnam for this country and you give me a nickel,' and he threw it at the passing cars!" I laughed/mourned with her and then she asked, "By the way, how much is a nickel?"

April 23, 2008 at 12:30:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've considered this many times, especially when I see homeless people in the dead of winter. Stating the obvious: If you ARE homeless, you probably don't have the capacity (mentally, if not then financially, etc) to move to a warmer climate. That's why you're homeless in the first place. Love your blog, btw.

April 23, 2008 at 7:07:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Tara said...

When Nick and I were in Miami, we were walking along the beach on our way to dinner when a homeless man came up to us.

"Hi, I'm collecting money for the Buy Larry a Drink Foundation. I happen to be the President."

So funny that it almost made me contribute.

April 23, 2008 at 2:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dana said...

Dear Dan,

While I enjoy Miami Mondays, I can't help but yearn for more. You don't even work in an OFFICE anymore and yet your output has decreased significantly. What up with that? I'm sure your co-workers are relieved that their bathroom habits aren't posted on the internet anymore, but what about US?

Additionally, I miss your mom's comments. Please post something incredibly inappropriate so we can enjoy your public comeuppance.

Throw us a bone -- or at least a Puppy.

April 24, 2008 at 11:48:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He doesn't work in an office any more and that is EXACTLY why his blog output HAS decreased. I mean, come on, When you're not sitting in front of your computer for 8 hours each day, AND you live in Florida, I suppose you've got better things to do than blog....like eat potato chips with homeless people.

April 24, 2008 at 3:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Camels & Chocolate said...

I had a homeless dude come and ask me for my jalapeno while I was dining at an outdoor cafe in Santa Cruz last week. Then, he asked for my onions. When I handed them to him on a fork, he got offended that I didn't use my fingers. Then, he proceeded to sit down and chat up my friend and me. Thing is, he didn't look at all homeless -- nice sweater, slacks, slightly disheveled hair -- but it was the odor, and the fact that he eventually asked for a dollar to use the phone that gave him away.

April 25, 2008 at 12:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Sleepy Scott said...

I guess I wouldn't have accepted the chip either since potato chips, onion dip, and Starbucks iced coffee make an odd combo at best.

Or maybe I would have! I'd teach that homeless person to share their food with me! I'm sure the trip to the ER later would be well worth the lesson on sharing limited resources.

Now I'm hungry for chips and dip. Great!

April 25, 2008 at 2:04:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous bacardi & Diet said...

Urg, the homeless smell is so nasty. Makes me want to throw up. I once met a semi-cute young homeless guy on Lincoln, he was nice playing for my dog, didn't ask for a thing. But he didn't stink stink. There was a slight odor, but that of a showered homeless.

April 25, 2008 at 3:50:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd think people who lived in that close proximity to beaches and warmth, would at least take the opportunity to bathe in the ocean on a daily basis? Am I the only one who would do this?

Mind you, I've also thought that if I ever become homeless, I'd spend my pandhandled earnings on a cheap gym membership (free shower and hair dryer, free locker space and abs of steel).

April 26, 2008 at 1:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger rube said...

This post is exactly an example of those who should have replaced the jewish killed by Hitler. To make fun of those who you dont know why they are on the street shows your intelligence and humanity. With millions of people unemployed and many thousands joining the unemployed and homeless everyday your type will receive a special gift someday for your attitudes.That you can count on. The stink you give off is much more offending than any homeless person

March 6, 2010 at 5:07:00 PM EST  
Blogger Cissy said...

Amen Rube. This light-hearted discussion with very little empathy makes me feel ill.

May 13, 2010 at 11:15:00 AM EDT  

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