Guest column by Bill Katz: The haves and have-nots

concept of rich and poor in a person

concept of rich and poor in a person

The St Louis National Bar Association hosted the  “President’s Dinner” and all were invited including us vendors. I sell art. The food was good and that is why we went in. When I go on the road, I quickly revert to my “hunter & gatherer” origins (when we walked and hardly talked) and readily seek out free food wherever it may be found. After my feeding, I depart the Marriott hotel to walk back to my van, And I notice an aging homeless person lying on a metal street bench. He has
been drinking. His belly is bloated.

After taking a few steps past him, a voice within compels me to do a round-about and I return to the banquet hall and make a sandwich of turkey roast and another sandwich of roast beef. After wrapping them in napkins, I visit the homeless man, whose name I later learn is Stanley, and give him the food.

The next evening, I find Stanley lying beside a building a few blocks away from the Marriott. I subsequently double back again after leaving another event at the National Bar Association; attorney Willie Gary’s extravaganza summer dress white party. Willie, who has built a very successful law practice and is fond of bragging about his five hundred million dollar settlement on stage, encourages attendees to dress in their summer whites. The only white clothing I took with me was my underwear and I didn’t think it would be a good idea to show up in only that attire.

Once again, I wrap a sandwich roll full of roast beef and another napkin full of fried chicken cuts.

As I continue the walk to my car, I realize that my long ago deceased mother was still alive within me. That thought made me feel good. She also would have brought the man that food.

If you ever visit St Louis, take a few minutes and walk around the convention center. You will probably find Stanley sitting on the metal grate on Washington Avenue or curled up on his pallet of cardboard a few blocks away. He could use some food. And if you visit in winter, he could probably use a warm winter coat.


9 responses to “Guest column by Bill Katz: The haves and have-nots

  1. Your mom must have been a very kind woman! You did a very nice thing in seeing and responding to another person who has become invisible to many. The best lesson & thank you I ever received from someone who felt invisible was, “You treat me like a person.” Every person matters, the Golden Rule, and We Are One was all rolled into those words. You gave Stanley more than food. You saw him and treated him like he mattered. That’s something!

    • Thank you. I rarely give money and not because I am stingy. Another vender saw me give him food and he then approached Stanley and gave him some money. It doesn’t really matter where the money went. But I would have bought food instead of giving money. That’s just my response. Everyone has their own approach.

      • Wow it’s hot out. I have been in my air conditiond room today reading because I don’t have anything else on the agenda today except to wait for my cate full of art to arrive. I just stepped out to look for my password to log on and got a blast of hot air. The length we sometimes go to communicate. Time to eat lunch and return to my room and let the world pass by, because I can.

  2. “…because I can.” Many stories in those three words.

  3. I forgot to mention that I rarely talk about this compassionate side of me. Right, but I announce it to the world on Susan Campbell’s blog. After I gave food, as mentioned, another vendor saw me and stepped up and gave him money. The next day, he announced to other vendors at the convention of my good deed and I was a little embarrassed.

    When others announce to the world how good and generous they are, I always wonder what their motivation really is. Is it acknowledgement? Is it a reprieve from the IRS? Is it PR for their company? When my money is good, I write modest checks to my favorite charities. But I don’t have much of a need to talk about it.

    • It was a lovely gesture. On the one hand, I see why you wouldn’t want to tell everyone — that sounds like bragging. On the other hand, it sets a really good example for the rest of us and how would we know that if you didn’t tell us?

  4. It’s probably psychological. Maybe I feel more natural being mr gruff. No matter what we do in life, we instantly become examples. An artist friend exhibits with a promoter who is unethical and thieving. I bought into his game once but never again. My friend repeatedly exhibits with them. He is the grand daddy of the art caravan circuit. At 70, people look up to him if for no other reason, but to do what he does. I have told him that young artists will be influenced by his acceptance of those bad promoters by example. He agrees with me but still supports them. I said no repeatedly because I know they want to use my museum-grade art presence to entice others. Besides, the shows rarely succeed anyways.

    Ok, I’ll be an example. You changed my mind by me following a logical sequence here. Wow, you have influenced me just by asking me a question. I think I’m gonna hang around here for awhile again, lol.

    Side bar: You know, I was banned by the Hartford Courant for posting for violating decorum because I got to heady with some pro NRA posters over a year ago. Now, I am fighting to get my “rights” restored. It is not important but I am making it a fight.

    Stay cool. Nothing to do today but write, read, play guitar and play with my cats in my air conditioned bedroom. I dig Emily Dickenson.

  5. Forgot to mention that I never give to young people who pan handle. I know I will now tarnish my good rep, but I feel that young folks can find work if they want.

    I decided to busk one day up in Northampton. Not for me. I wanted to raise money for a cat recue group. So I set up my guitar case, music stand and wailed away. But no one stopped to listen to my songs. I was about to place my guitar back in its case to leave and as I looked down, someone had dropped two dollars in the case. Man, I felt like Bruce Springsteen after a three hour concert. I kept playing but no more money came in.

    I actually expected people to stop and listen to my animal rights songs. No way, Jose. I used the two bucks for gas money. Ha. Ha.

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