Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Every time I go to the 24-hour Walgreens South of Pico, I encounter a homeless person waiting outside. It's usually a woman who asks me to please buy her a Coke or some coffee. One very sleepy woman asked me to buy her some freeze-dried Taster's Choice coffee and a bottle of water. The minute I gave it to her she drank the coffee "dry" by ripping open the coffee tube and sucking it down her throat, then taking a swig of water. I didn't know whether to be mystified or horrified, so I asked if she wouldn't rather just have a cup of hot coffee. She said "No." I guess this is the quicker way of getting caffeine into your system.

Around midnight last week I was driving home from a downtown event on the roof of the Standard Hotel for REDCAT's 10th anniversary and I stopped at Walgreen's for some toothpaste. A woman was waiting outside my car and asked if I'd buy her some Fritos -- the 99- cent bag. I asked if she wanted anything to drink and she said a Coca Cola. They were out of the 99-cent bag, so I bought her two smaller bags of Fritos and two ice-cold Cokes.

As I left the store, I gave the woman her junk food her and she ran off with glee. It doesn't take much to make people happy. But also outside the door I noticed a small man leaning up against the obsolete phone booth. He looked painfully shy, almost unable to look me in the eyes. He was slim and well-dressed in a leather jacket. At first I didn't think he was homeless because he was wearing a yarmulke on his head, the religous Jewish skullcap. This is an orthodox neighborhood full of synagogues and  tight-knit Jewish families constantly walking back and forth to temple. A lot of the men could be mistaken for Amish with their long beards and mustaches. Either that, or they are all members of the "Movember" movement to not shave their faces. The entire neighborhood reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld or Woody Allen's "Manhattan."

Anyway, the look in this slim man's eyes haunted me as I drove out of the parking lot. I got about five blocks away and then decided I had to go back. I had to find out if he was hungry.

I pulled straight over to him and rolled down my window and asked him, "Are you hungry?" He looked at me with pale blue eyes and nodded 'yes.' I handed him the bag of shortbread holiday cookies I had just bought as well as the last $20.00 dollar bill I had in my wallet.

He burst into tears and said "Thank you, thank you, thank you... " as if it had been his last day on earth and he had been restored to life.

I was so moved I said: "God Bless you, I love you."

I then pulled away and burst into tears and couldn't stop crying all the way home.

Lately, I've been so self-involved in "getting back into acting and launching my comedy and selling my books" and casting my pearls before swine and grieving the loss of a certain big-shot literary agent whom I fantasized about representing me but who only reps books written by ghostwriters (who didn't bother to read my writing at all ) — and lately I've been so self-obsessed with wanting things to happen the way I want them to happen — on my timeline and schedule  - that I forgot what makes the world go around.

I have never felt more useful than when I can make someone else happy. And as an added bonus, the more I give, the more I receive: I gave the man $20, and the next day I received $1,000 as gift, without asking.  But you have to give from your heart. I honestly would not have received this gift if I were "giving" for the wrong reasons.

Let's drop the cliche of "Happy Thanksgiving" and really be grateful for what we have, no matter how small.

I have never gone through such hard times as the past year,  yet my daily needs are met when I help others.


Orthodox Jewish man