[I wrote this a while ago. I changed David's name, but everything else I left alone. I have attempted to simply tell his story as he told it to me without making any judgments. -- gordoni]
Mountain View, April 1995.
"Hello! I'm looking for someone to talk to."
"That's good, you're looking for someone to talk to too."
David is age 34. He claims he looks 21. I suggest otherwise. He is willing to accept that perhaps he looks 26-28, but no higher. David spends his time hanging out. David has been hanging out in front of the Red Rock Cafe in Mountain View for the last 6 weeks.
David likes watching the buses stop in front of the Red Rock Cafe. He likes watching the people get on and the people get off. He knows all the buses. He can get anywhere by bus. The 300 bus that just went past will take you to the K-Mart in Milpitas.
David spends the day in San Jose where he hangs around with three friends. Each evening at around 4pm he travels to Mountain View by himself. San Jose isn't a good place to spend the night. The cops hassle you in San Jose. Have I ever been on the streets in San Jose at around 2 or 3am he wants to know? Also racism. Blacks, and Mexicans. They beat you up. David never gets involved in fights or violence. He doesn't believe in that. The people in Mountain View are also easier to pan handle. That's how I got this cup of coffee he explains. The coffee costs $1.10.
David suffers from schizophrenia. He never eats, nor does he ever feel hungry. He only ever smokes and drinks coffee. Coffee makes him sleepy. Anything with sugar in actually. Otherwise he is hyperactive. He doesn't have anywhere to sleep, but he doesn't need anywhere. He doesn't need to sleep, well, maybe he sleeps for an hour or two, but only wherever he is.
David asks about the button I am wearing: "Things to do today: get a clue, get a job, get a life". I get out my wallet to show him the card someone gave me thinking he will enjoy it: "CLUE: Now you have one". He holds it silently for a while, then silently hands the card back to me.
David used to do a lot of hitchhiking. He used to write down the maps on pieces of paper, and go into libraries and study atlases. Hitchhiking is hard though. Standing around for 6 hours with your thumb out. He has hitchhiked all over the U.S., and spent a few years living in Mississippi. It is too dangerous to hitchhike now. You hear stories. People get robbed and beaten. They cut people up.
David was born in Germany, on a US air force base. He moved to California when he was 3. His parents got divorced a long time ago. 1974.
His dad now lives with someone else. His dad works for Loomis as a security guard. His dad disowned him; Christmas 1993. He hasn't been in contact with his dad since them. David was always asking for money, and his dad hung up on him saying "I have my problems, and you have yours". That wasn't his real father though. He doesn't know who his real father was.
David's mom is in the computer industry. Well, she used to be. She used to work for National Semiconductor. She is now at home. She gets chemotherapy. She has lung cancer. Every two week she goes to see a neurologist - a type of doctor. There is something in the back of her neck she is going to get removed. David's mom used to smoke. She doesn't smoke any more. David isn't even allowed to smoke in her house - passive smoke. It hasn't been proved that smoking causes cancer.
Twice a week David goes to his mom's house to have a shower and to get shaved. That is how he keeps clean. He has a disabled card that allows him to get from Mountain View to his mom's in Sunnyvale for $0.75.
David's mom lives with his sister. His sister has just had a baby. His mom and his sister are the only people that know he spends any time in Mountain View.
David gets $20 a week social security. His payee won't let him get any more. A payee is a person that gets your money and gives part of it to you. The rest of the money goes to a boarding home. David didn't like it in the boarding home and left there 6 weeks ago. He wanted his independence. David never seeks help from any of the voluntary agencies.
David got married one and a half years ago. His wife has three kids, and is trying to divorce him. His wife is in Colorado. His wife is a bitch. She stole $950 from him. That was all she was interested in. He isn't interested in dealing with women any more.
Six months ago David was in a psychiatric institution. He was hearing voices, as well as some other stuff. The people there were friendly. He keeps his medication inside his jacket.
David never went to school. Ok, he left school in grade five. But, that was private school, so it doesn't count. He is smart. He has learnt everything he knows by himself. He would like to learn to read. If he could read he could get a job in the Red Rock Cafe. And he could also study algebra and other stuff.
People don't care about you, and yes he thinks he has a right to get angry. People just pass you by. They are happy in their jobs. They just don't care.
Yesterday David and his friend spent $50 in San Jose. This was a lot of money, but friends are like that. He will pay his friend back once he has the money.
There is a cold wind in Mountain View and I feel chilly, but wearing three jackets - one on top of the other - David doesn't get cold.
David is on probation. Around a year ago he was in the Sunnyvale town center with his wife and threw her to the floor. Someone saw and called the cops. He spent six months in a cell. That was hard. Six months in a cell without a cigarette. It was hard.
In two months time David will be going to Mississippi. He likes it there. He can't go yet because his payee still gets his social security checks. But in two months his says he will be able to get his doctor to sign his a piece of paper for him. How does he know he will be able to do this? He says he just knows. He won't be hitchhiking to Mississippi. He plans to buy a car. He has $2500 in the bank that he will be able to use.
David likes it in Mississippi, and he will be going there soon. I wish him the best of luck and say goodbye.
[People are the only thing on the planet that matters. Never be too busy to care. -- gordoni]