What’s The Story?

By: sonofabeach96

Aug 27 2015

Category: Uncategorized


Have you ever wondered, when you see a person who’s situation seems bizarre or odd or even sad, what’s the story there?  How did this happen to them?  How did life and circumstances conspire to the point that it drove this person to behave or live or act in what would be considered an unusual manner?  Dont get me wrong.  I’m not criticizing or ridiculing their situation. I’m not above anybody else.  Hell, I’ve been there.   Homeless, penniless, and even arrested.  And I have the empathy gene to the nth degree.  Because of that and my past exprience, I can put myself in their shoes.  And I worry about them as much as I wonder how they arrived in their situations.

This post is inspired by one I read yesterday, posted by Miss Evelyn, that has a photo attached.  And, in this photo you see someone’s belongings not so neatly piled at the curb.  Shoes, papers strewn, boxes, etc., unceremoniously tossed out for garbage pick-up, presumably.  Miss Evelyn posed the question, and I’m paraphrasing because my memory sucks, “Do you see something like this and wonder what happened?”.   do, often.

My wife and I lived in a house in an urban environment before moving to the country in 2000.  This particular neighborhood is very eccentric and your liable to see a hippie, a middle aged professor, ala Donald Sutherland’s character in Animal House, a hipster, a girl with a 100 tats and pink mowhawk, and a yuppie in the same line for coffee.  So, eccentric and unusual people were the norm, not the exception, in this area.  We were young and poorer and had only one car so I rode public transportation to/from work downtown.  There was this woman, maybe 70 years old.  Always looked disheveled and she would have full-on conversations…with her self.  And when she’d get up to get off at her stop, she would stare at me with this glassy gaze.  I didn’t see her frequently, I guess, but every time it was same.  And, as a side note, I used to call her my lucky charm, because whenever I did see her, something good had either already  happened that day or did happen later that day.  Weird!  But anyway, I always wondered what her story was.

Or the guy, in that same neighborhood, who we’d see nearly daily walking the sidewalks.  Not unusual.  What was unusual is that while walking, he was rolling a giant inflatable ball in the style of Earth.  Every day!  Why?  What happened to cause this guy to spend hours walking a densely busy corridor while rolling a ball the size of a VW Beetle? I always wondered what his story was.

Or the guy in New Orleans who looks as though he hasn’t shaved or showered in years, dressed in filthy jeans and a plain green Army jacket.  Every day, whether its cold or hot, and you don’t need a jacket in New Orleans in the spring or summer.  I used to trade him cigarettes for bootleg CD’s.  i would bring him food.  But he rarely would say much so i never got his story.  Speaking of New Orleans, what about the people who bring rum and chicory coffee to Marie Laveau’s tomb in the dark of night, leaving lit candles and offerings.  What’s their story?

Or the guy I see every day on my way home from work.  Living in the country, I have to go through a couple little towns between work and home.  One stretch of road is a 2-lane highway, 55 mph speed limit with wide emergency lanes.  This guy walks in the southbound emergency lane with his walking stick…every day.  The odd thing is, he waves at literally EVERY passing vehicle.  I just wave as I speed past and wonder, “What’s the story there?”.  What prompted him to do this every day?  Not to walk, but to wave at every car that passes him.  That’s a lot of cars!

And when I say, “I wonder what the story is?”, I don’t mean superficially.  I mean the deep meaning, the root of what led someone to be homeless, push a giant ball around city streets, have conversations with themselves on city buses, or to wave at hundreds of passing strangers.  What went wrong, or right, what changed them, what caused them to begin their journey?  I know everyone has a story, but some are certainly more fascinating than others.  I wonder.

Thanks Miss Evelyn, for inspiring me today.  I’m sure others have interesting people they’ve encountered over the years.  Ones that made you wonder what their story is.  I’d love to hear about some, so feel free to comment about them.

In this light, my songs of the day are:

“What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” by R.E.M.

“Are You Living The Life You Chose?” by Jason Isbell

“Ask Me No Questions?” by Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn

“Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me My Monkey” by the Beatles

“Refuge” by Matisyahu

“The Hobo Song” by Old & In The Way

“What’s He Building In There?” by Tom Waits



25 comments on “What’s The Story?”

  1. Speaking of New Orleans, what about the people who bring rum and chicory coffee to Marie Laveau’s tomb in the dark of night, leaving lit candles and offerings. What’s their story?

    I can answer this one, at least – they are seeking a blessing from the “Voodoo Queen.” In life, she was very influential in her circles; some believe that her powers didn’t cease when she died. Probably a simplistic answer, but it’s early yet and I haven’t had my coffee.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I knew that part. But, there’s more to that story I’d think. What leads someone to that particular discipline? I’m sure there are family and cultural ties, of course. But the people who choose to go that route? What led them there, to dismiss traditional “religion”, and I’m no fan of “religion”, and take up the practice? There’s certainly a story. I know a few that practice voodoo but they’re steeped in it from family ties and tradition. I love people’s stories and New Orleans is full of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “What went wrong or right”. I love this. We sometimes look at others thinking something went wrong to justify what we think or feel are their reality when indeed something might have gone according to plan, they might be where they are because they wanted to. Unless we reach out, we will never know! It’s so easy to look and assume but like you I do wonder…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, it’s hard not to assume they’re miserable or are in a tragic situation. They may WANT to be I that situation. I’m an OT and I had a patient a while back. He was homeless. Everybody felt sorry for him, social worker kept bringing him info on shelters and such. I talking to him daily, I learned he was living the way he was by choice, he wanted the freedom, to not be tied to anything tangible. And he was happy with his choice. But everybody thought they had to try to save him. He didn’t need to be. I still worry about him though.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I think to worry is normal for some of us. We worry and want to help. Those are qualities you would need to be a good OT and a great parent. We want to help! I had such a culture shock at 17 when I moved from my small country town to Montreal. I was overwhelmed by it all. I couldn’t even imagine why someone would sit alone in a restaurant. Where I’m from, we all knew everybody and you could never be alone anywhere. 🙂 and now, I’m that person sitting alone in restaurant and coffee shop, reading a book or people watching while enjoying a break from my crazy adult life.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I took the opposite route! Grew up and lived in a city then moved to the country 15 years ago. As soon as I shut the cattle hate on my driveway, the world disappears. I love it! And I’m a loner by nature so doing almost anything alone is fine with me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I have the best of both world now. A city big enough to have all the services and retail options I want while being minutes away from the country and the beach. I rather enjoy this! I’m a loner too, I just didn’t know it when I was a teenager!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Me too, minus the beach nearby. I hope to rectify that problem ASAP! 😃

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched this video and saw that some homeless people used to be professors before 😯

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Small world.. Yesterday sitting at the marina, on a bench, on a patch of green grass overlooking the bay, a little old man, sitting in his chair, big black dog, thermos full of something, had a scanner radio on besides him…he was monitoring the beach, yelling at kids who threw rocks in the bay, snarling and cackling to himself about the tourist who walked on the beach at the bass if the little cliff… I asked my husband….wonder what’s his story?? I walked away thinking he might have been the harbor master 40 years ago…. And also figured his thermos was spiked….. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Our world famous Swedish children’s author Astrid Lindgren once read on a tombstone of two young boys who had died. In her mind was born when the story of the Brothers Lionheart, whose life stories have captivated millions of children and adults ever since the 1970s.

    The Brothers Lionheart – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Your and Miss Evelyns post reminded me of how great stories can come from such thoughts both real ones and fiction.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. As someone with a mental illness, either that or addiction usually plays a part. We as a country need to do better for our own people rather than every other country in the world. Just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, I think you are probably right. Not sure of percentages, but I would imagine that’s certainly part of the equation. Sorta gets swept under the rug, huh?


  7. So just a couple of weeks ago I saw a priest sweeping his driveway with a push broom….he took the dirt halfway across the street. I bet he’d be interesting to have a cuppa joe with too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you this post, sonofabeach 🙂 I often wonder too about the stories that led people to where they are, especially homelessness. Everyday at work I pass by homeless shelters and I came to recognize the people who sit there everyday with their sign and/or Dunkin Donuts cup. Its truly heartbreaking yet at the same time you know not everyone is having the same exact story. You want to help, but sometimes it doesn’t as some people think they are “entitled” it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. And, thanks for the pingback, I appreciate it 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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