A few weeks ago I was downtown photographing the Portrait Gallery Swap Box on my lunch hour, and my hands suddenly got painfully cold. The next thing I knew, I was in Zeller’s on Sparks Street, warming up and gravitating to the mittens section.
Because my hands were cold, I bought warm mittens for Dave X.
Tonight I tucked a few little extra things inside the mittens, and wrapped them. Then I put the package in my knapsack. My mission this week will be to find Dave X. It’s not always easy finding homeless people. I mean, you can always find homeless people, but you can’t always find the specific one you’re looking for.
He’s an interesting character, Dave X is. He’s 57 years old. He doesn’t drink or smoke or do drugs. He refuses to work, panhandle or apply for welfare. He won’t use the shelters, but he’ll go to some of the holiday meals being offered by churches. The rest of the year he lives on peanut butter, bread and bananas. “I like them best when they’re lightly freckled,” he says wistfully.
His only source of income is found money: change on the sidewalk, bills he finds inside pockets of suit jackets at thrift stores, money dropped by drunk people getting into taxis at closing time, spare change under the drive-thru window at McDonalds. And in the summer he borrows friends’ yards so he can have yard sales.
He’s looking forward to turning 60 in three years so he can get an old age pension and maybe rent a room somewhere. He says the Found Money business isn’t as lucrative as it used to be. “There’s more competition now,” he says.
It’s been a brutal winter so far for homeless people. I hope he’s not sleeping under a blanket of snow tonight.
If it’s cold tomorrow, he might be hunkered down at the library. I’ll start there.