It was a Saturday evening, and I was coming here to get chicken for my family when a man my age approached me and asked for spare change. I immediately recognized him from high school. I said, "Joe?" and he said, "No, I'm not Joe," and I said, "Well, I'll see if I have anything after I get out of the store." So I went in, and standing in front of me in line was another familiar face. I used to teach woodworking for the Chicago Park District, and I recognized this young woman as a former student of mine. I remember her when she was about 13 or 14, talking about going to college and being a basketball player, and now she'd become a prostitute--I could tell by the way she was dressed. I was afraid she was going to proposition me--she gave me the look--but I turned away. I didn't want her to recognize me. After I got outside, Joe approached me, held out his hand, and said, "Yeah, Tom, it's me, Joe. I was embarrassed to ask for money." We chatted about a few old friends, and I gave him a couple of bucks. I don't know if he's homeless, but I'd heard from a mutual friend that he hadn't changed at all--which meant that he hadn't worked a day in his life.
--Tom Gregory, information technology specialist