Friday, March 16, 2012


The sun came out so I grabbed a falafel sandwich and found a chair to sit in and read in Occidental Park. A few minutes later an older black gentleman with a hoarse voice asked if he could sit at the table with me. I of course said, "certainly." He had just scored some sweet shoes and a jacket that someone gave him and was really proud of them, making sure I checked them out and to give my approval. We got to talking and he pretty much shared his whole life with me, which included having no parents since he was a baby and living on the mean streets of Chicago at the age of 7. He hustled for a living and went to high school and then joined the Army and went to Vietnam where he was a "Tunnel Rat," a military term for those who seek out the enemy that lives in extensive underground fortresses, and then kills them. He moved to Seattle in 1977 and had a wife who died in the 90s. He now and mostly has always lived on the streets primarily, and for work he cleans one of the local strip clubs after hours. I asked where he sleeps and he told me he usually transfers from bus to bus, grabbing naps while he's on them and that he goes to Harborview Medical Center and sleeps while sitting in their waiting room. He has absolutely no regrets in life and feels blessed for being 61 years old and healthy of mind and body. Everything he said was emphasized with positivity and hopefulness and respect. He never begs and believes that anything you want in life comes down to your actions and how you approach it - which includes listening to others and never taking handouts. His name is Terry Martin, his street name is "Nightmare."

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