Posted by Menlo Park resident, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 4:06 pm
I'm not sure Tic Toc is from around here. The streets of downtown Palo Alto at around 9:30 p.m. in mid December are pretty safe.
The homeless men I spoke with regarding the Starbucks card are older, and anyway, if I can't trust my instincts, life would be dull indeed.
This was not my first encounter with homeless people in Palo Alto.
I have walked blocks with a homeless man who had a wonderful Rainman-like quality to him, talking constantly and asking simple questions. He wanted directions. I couldn't figure out where he wanted to go so, with him chattering all the way, we walked to the local Whole Foods and I bought him some hot soup. What a great feeling that was. He was great company, too.
A homeless man once who stopped me in a crosswalk on a sleepy street and told me I could have a conversation with him if I gave him some money. I gave him 50 cents and we had a brief and memorable exchange.
A homeless woman once asked me for money and I told her I would give her some if she promised she would tell me where she came from. She had a lovely and mysterious accent. I gave her a couple of bucks, but she refused -- with a clever smile -- to tell me where she was from. As she got on a bus, I recall asking her to "C'mon, tell me," but she just ignored me.
When I was making more money than I am now, I heard very elaborate sob stories from at least two homeless guys that led me to give them $20 each. I figured out later that they had lied to me, but hey, I don't care.
Once, a Chinese woman who could barely speak English ... well, I'll stop now. I think you get the idea.
I prefer to think that we live in a society where direct interaction with one's fellow human beings is still possible, particularly in a suburb where no one seems to rub shoulders with anyone outside their own sphere.