“I gotta improve myself everyday…”

1940023_732943800109978_1998928904429225246_n“People think I am weird around here” he said with a laugh. Calvin likes greeting people on the street, by waving, giving a fist bump, or a simple smile. “I’m from Warren, Ohio everyone talks to each other there, I was taught to be respectful of people.” He grew up with a single mom with 7 brothers and sisters. She struggled to raise them on her own, taking on multiple jobs. So for a time he lived in a foster home. He never knew his dad, who was an alcoholic. His foster father taught him how to be a window washer. Which Calvin did for most of his life. We sat together at Pershing Square and looked up at the high rise buildings, and he explained with great enthusiasm everything about commercial window cleaning. He recalled with fond memories of taking his lunch break on the suspended scaffolding, his feet dangling, taking in magnificent views of the city. Calvin loved his job and that’s all he knew. However with major drought limiting the use of water, the work started to dry up. And robots or automated window cleaning machines are being incorporated more and more so his future days as a window washer doesn’t look good. He’s been living on the streets in Skid Row for the past 3 weeks unable to make ends meet. He sleeps on the ground with only a card box where the rats and cockroaches scurry by each night. I offered to buy him dinner, but he just wanted a quarter for a cigarette and to have a nice chat. He says he doesn’t feel comfortable asking people for money. He’s been walking around all day trying to get his paperwork in order to get himself off the streets as quickly as he can. He said with a smile “I gotta improve myself everyday…”