Jerry was out side the Wicker park Jewel Osco and was looking for change to hop on the bus. He was an older man with a cane.
I asked for advice and he responded “Whats going on?”, ready to help me.
Below is a list of items I remember Jerry telling me but he had a lot more things to say. Moving forward I’m going to start recording these conversations so I can better transcribe what people say, because Jerry was full of good advice.
Just keep going and you will be successful. After everyone else has given up on you, If you don’t give up on yourself you will succeed.
Don’t talk about your Money or your love life. And you will be alright.
Why do Rich people commit suicide? If I was rich I wouldn’t do that.
I may be poor but I’m happy.
I gave him a few dollars and he started walking towards the bus, but quickly turned around because he forgot a bag with peanut butter and bread someone had give him earlier. He grabbed it and then he went on his way.
I met John outside one of the bars on Clark street Saturday Night when I walked by he said God Bless. I turned around and gave him a dollar. He thanked me and I asked him for advice, he told me:
Don’t do drugs.
He talked about how he met his Ex Wife in a bar and that she cheated on him and how ultimately he lost custody of his son because of his drug use. John said that you shouldn’t be looking for a your wife in a bar but instead you should find one somewhere else like at church.
Wow, I had just a great hour long conversation with Chris.
Chris asked me if I could buy him a burrito, and at first I just gave him a dollar or two and asked him for his advice. He wanted to know what subject I wanted the advice for and I said just for life in general. He said:
The best general life advice I can give, is that life is full of land mines and if you don’t keep a look out, you will step on one. Avoid stepping on the land minds or else you will end up like me.
As soon, as Chris started talking, he opened up with a wealth of information and spoke with a deep knowledge of religion and people. After about 10 minutes I could tell there was a lot more to be said, so I invited him inside for a burrito. Chris ordered a steak burrito with just the meat and I got two tacos.
When ever you order burrito order it with just the meat, otherwise you will end up with a lot of rice and only a little bit of meat.
When we sat down, Chris deeply thanked me for the burrito and for sharing a meal with him. I think moments like this are the reasons I continue to do this project. The deep human connection and honesty I can share with a complete stranger is so powerful; it far out weighs the cost of a burrito.
At one point Chris noticed that I had finished my tacos and devoured the chips. He then got up, requested more chips, bought me another taco and put some money in the tip jar.
We spoke more about Religion, Politics,the future of technology and a business idea of his. He mentioned that he goes to the library everyday(minus Sunday because the library is closed) and then left me with his email address. The conversation could have gone on but Chris had to get back to the room he was renting for the night or he would find his belongings out on the sidewalk.
Richard was sitting on a big plastic bucket holding a glass Jar. When I asked him for advice he leaned back and said Yeah I got one for you.
Don’t buy lottery tickets!
Instead put the five dollars you would have spent on the tickets into the bank and after a year, thats 52 weeks times the 5 dollars you put in, that’s…… a lot of money, lets say its a Thousand dollars. That’s like winning the lottery.
Next what you want to do is spend it. Spend it on the day after thanksgiving because things are 60 or 70 percent off. So thats like doubling your money right there.
“Yo yo yo can you help a guy get on the train.” said Sebastian sporting a red and black club patterned button up shirt. He spoke with a cheerful rhythm as I asked for some wisdom. He paused for a moment and then said this:
People are the most important thing, it does not matter how shinny the object is, it will always come back to the people in the end.