Don’t Talk to Strangers.
I’m pretty sure everyone’s parents said this to them at some point between age 3 and 12. Fortunatley for me, I only listened to half of what my parents asked of me.
This photo was taken in 2008 a few day’s before my 19th birthday in LA on Skid Row. It was taken on a disposable camera. I find that using the old school method is more fun then the cell phone/digital camera age that we are in now. You don’t get the chance to review and critique the image for perfection. You are given a certain number of shots, and you better make every one worth it because when it prints that’s it.
My best friend and I had just left Monster Massive; a huge rave that is held every year around the end of October. Our party supplies consisted of:
- 3 Hits of LSD from the vile
- 2 Ecstasy pills (one that was smoked)
- Several blunts and bowls of Mary Jane
I decided to dress up as an Angel; my buddy was the Devil. I had wings, but they got lost somewhere between Benny Benassi’s set & the drum & bass tent.
As we wandered through the streets trying to find a bus stop at 5am to take us back to our small one room apartment, we had a sudden craving for cigarettes. I’m an avid smoker, so at this point in time the brand really didn’t matter.
We turned onto Skid Row, and while we waited for the bus I noticed a lady sitting on the ground, obviously homeless holding a pack of Marlboro Reds. I motioned to my friend and pointed at her.
"Dude, I’m gonna ask her for a cigarette."
"WTF ew don’t take a cig from a damn bum."
"I don’t care. Its a cigarette."
I stood and observed her for a few minutes to try and think of what my line would be after I approached her. I imagine men do the same when they watch attractive women walk down the street. She had the pack of cigarettes, and she was sitting on the ground. I didn’t have any money, so I figured, fuck it. I’m just going to ask.
He watched in awe as I slowly walked towards her and struck up a conversation.
"Hey, um excuse me. Can me and my friend have a cigarette?"
She looked up at me and mumbled.
"I don’t have a lighter."
I remembered that my friend did. So I motioned for him to come over. He looked at us both like we were stupid.
"How about this, I’ll give you our lighter, and you just give us two cigarettes."
She complied, and opened the pack, revealing the sticks of sin we so desperately craved, and motioned for us to take a few. She also took one out for herself. I lit everyone’s cigarette and we all inhaled and exhaled in relief.
I then turned to her and started to ask her questions.
"Why are you out here anyway?"
"I lost my home."
"Why what happened?"
"I was smoking crack."
Now that’s a very simple answer, and if I didn’t care at all I would have laughed and left it at that, and walked back to the bus stop with my cigarette. But the cat in me just had to know why this woman was her on the worst block in the city, alone, dirty, and on the ground.
She was married years ago to a very successful attorney. They had no children, a beautiful home, and lived a very luxurious life. He became sick and died, and as a coping mechanism she began to indulge in drugs to help her get over the pain of her lost lover.
As her addiction began to consume her, she went through all the money they had acquired, lost their home, and ended up on the streets without a soul in the world who cared. Her family had disowned her during the peak of her destruction, and she was left on the street with nothing but, well, her pack of Marlboro Reds.
She was a sweetheart who made some horrible decisions, but even in her situation, which is far more terrible then anything I’ve ever had to deal with, she was willing to share the little that she had with us.
I handed her the lighter, and she tried to refuse it, but I made her take it.
I asked her if I could take a picture with her, and she said yes. And that brings us to the memory that I am sharing with you now.
We wished her well, and as the bus pulled up, we swiped our fare cards and rode back to East LA, crashing in our costumes when we got inside the house.
In this blog I will be discussing and sharing the past 5 years of my social experiments with random interactions that I have had with people all over the United States met via internet & other non-conventional mediums. There will be true, never before told stories about (but not limited to):
- craigslist encounters
- dating sites
- homeless people
- strip clubs
- insane asylums
- criminal activity
- hitch hiking
- serial killers
Verbal Verite. Who’s reading?