On my weekday commute from Woodinville, through Redmond, to Bellevue, I pass panhandlers and I am always curious about their stories. After talking with them I came away with a better understanding of panhandlers as people. Contrary to some stories I have read elsewhere, I definitely did not get the sense that anyone was making an easy living or spending the money on drugs. Everyone was a pleasure to meet. These are their stories.
We had our tent up at South Kirkland and they removed the railroad track so it became the City of Kirkland and then we suppose the city came in one day and cleaned us out when we were at work and we came home and everything was gone. Um, yeah so we save up barely about $55 a night for a motel. I’d like to save enough for two days at a time but that is pretty much impossible. How we got here is, well, we went up to Alaska to do fish processing and we both got swine flu. Right now, whatyacallit, we’re living day-by-day out here. — Caleb & Connie in RedmondHmm, well, ah, yeah I’m living off the street right now. I have a friend I stay with a couple days a week. I’m out here trying to make a couple bucks. I don’t actually like being out here. I actually hate doing this, but, it helps get the things I need. Well I’m staying with a friend at Shoreline a few days a week. I’m used to staying outside. Like Caleb, him and Connie over there, every night they get enough money to go stay in a hotel room. Thanks for the conversation. — Jeremy in Redmond
I am a Marine veteran from the first Gulf War. They won’t see me at the VA. This is my buddy Norm. He just got out of the hospital. Yeah, sure, take a picture. They told him his lungs, kidneys, and liver were all bad. Oh, yeah, it was bad. Brent was the only one that come visit me. I was over at Overlake Hospital. They gave me a walker. — Norm and Brent in BellevueI had kidney failure in ‘98. I spent 14 nights in a dumpster in Montana in February, 32 below. But I have had so many complications. I have had 25 surgeries and I had a triple bypass a year and a half ago. I built over 300 houses in Montana. I was a contractor and I had 35 people working for me, I lost $400,000. I found serenity here in Woodinville. It’s very peaceful here. I built six houses for my wife and I. You lose your money, you lose your wife too. I look kinda fat in that picture you took. — Patrick in Woodinville
We take different shifts on this corner. We make what we can and hopefully get a room for the night. I got injured fishing up at Dutch Harbor. I got hit by a trap. The kid had hooked it wrong and it came off on me. We’d be fishing for crab and in the off season we’d be fishing for cod. But it was back in 20 years ago. Then I lost my wife and I kind of had a little breakdown. Yeah, that was really the big thing, man. That was bigger than getting hurt. Thanks brother. — Sean in Bellevue