I was intrigued by what he was doing, so I decided to find somewhere to park and go talk to him. As I was walking towards him, he turned and started to walk towards a barren storefront, where I saw him join 3 other guys who were sitting on the ground in the shade. It was then that I realized that they were homeless.
I did have a small amount of fear in me at the thought of approaching 4 homeless men by myself, but it was broad daylight in a very busy area with people everywhere, and something told me I'd be safe, so I went ahead and approached them.
I asked the young guy what he was doing with his sign, and he said getting tips. They all wanted to know what I was doing, and I told them about my Angel Project. I explained how I just would go to random places in my angel outfit and hold my posters for the public to see to promote messages of kindness. They started giving me all sorts of valuable street advice, such as which intersections were the best, which intersections to be careful at because there would be competition from crazy homeless people who'd beat me up if I took their corner, and areas I could make the most money.
I told them that people rarely gave me any money, but also that I didn't ask people for money, because I felt that it would take away from my Angel messages and what I was doing. I told them that I'd only made like $10 (at that time) in random donations that people would hand to me. They all looked at each other in total bewilderment. One of the homeless men, named Carl, who is an older gentleman and had a full-leg cast, wobbled up to his feet, and came over to hand me a $5 bill. It was really a special and surreal moment for me: A homeless man giving ME a donation. I thanked him for his gift, and then he surprised me further by also giving me a $5 gift card to Carl's Jr. Hamburger Restaurant. How ironic that Carl gave me a Carl's Jr. gift card! I stay in touch with Carl to this day and check in on him now and then. Although he seems to have random bouts of sadness over his wife's passing, he is always telling me how thankful he is for the people in his life: his homeless friends and some of the people who give him donations. He sounds very happy most of the time despite his circumstances.
I'll conclude this story with this quote: "Prosperity is living happily and comfortably in the real world, whether you have money or not."
~ Mandelyn Reese ~ The LA Street Angel ~ 3/31/13 ~ The Angel Project