(Toledo, OH) The man standing at Secor and the I-475 exit ramp was reluctant for me to take his picture.
"I'm embarrassed about where I am and how I got here," he admitted. "If you don't mind, I'd rather not be in your picture."
Of course, it was the sign that intrigued me more than the middle-aged man in the Dallas Cowboys jacket. There is nothing new about panhandlers and beggars, especially in a Rust Belt city like Toledo, but I am seeing so many more folks than I used to.
And in such cold weather, too.
"I'm thinking about moving someplace warm, and where there are actually a few jobs," he told me. "I don't know how much more of this city I can take."
I gave him all the money I had on me, which was about 90 cents. Normally I don't make a habit of tossing cash to guys with hopeful signs, but this man was... different. He didn't strike me as the typical panhandler, and his embarrassment seemed legitimate, like someone wholly unused to asking for charity.
If he is there tomorrow, I'll probably help him out again. It's the least I can do to make up for the carload of teenaged idiots who yelled: "Get a job!"