One of my favorite homeless people is a guy that, according to these photos by local photog Thomas Hawk, is named Christopher. Christopher is about 5′, white male, with blue eyes, fair hair, and pretty young. He’s also able-bodied, as far as I can tell. I didn’t want to take a picture of Christopher, but I did want to share his panhandling technique.
Christopher often hangs out at the corner of Taylor and Sutter, sitting next to The Cellar and Sugar Cafe. Sometimes he just hangs, sitting on a blanket and munching a Subway sandwich. Other times, he’ll solicit donations from passers-by. When he’s really hard up, though, Christopher will stumble up and down Sutter and intersecting streets, following people and asking them for money. What’s interesting is that as Chris approaches people, he affects a limp on his left leg. But after he’s done talking to them, he walks away all normal only to affect the limp again when he finds someone else to solicit. Chris has a similar mannerism when sitting. He’ll rock back and forth rhythmically like some people with mental handicaps do. But he only does it as he’s asking someone for change. After they leave, he stops, only to start again when the next person comes by.
I’m pretty sure Chris has substance abuse issues. When I first noticed him in the Tendernob a few years ago he looked clean-cut, didn’t look homeless at all, and was usually pretty coherent. Now he’s looking awful, scraggly beard, bloodshot eyes, wrapped in a blanket, mumbling to himself when alone. Despite being frequently messed up or visibly intoxicated or high, Chris seems to be living okay on panhandling. He told photographer Hawk that he lives in an apartment on Polk Street, but it’s not certain if this is the truth. If you see Chris on Sutter Street, feel free to say hello. Just know that if he’s rocking or limping, he’ll stop right quick after you leave.