Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

When I worked in downtown Los Angeles, I got to know a few of the homeless who worked the corners I had to pass. Most of them were mentally ill. Some were surprisingly young. One man, in his 20's, was pretty lucid and my friend Jonathan Cupp started giving him money. Jonathan died shortly thereafter, and I told the homeless guy, who was pretty shaken up by it. Jonathan was good to him, asked him how he was doing, and gave him food.

After that, I started giving the guy food. I couldn't afford much, but I would try to slip him a bagel or something else I could pilfer from backstage, anything that was going to be thrown out anyway... I was always amazed at how appreciative the guy was. It must have been unusual for anyone to give a damn about this guy, who, it turned out once had a decent job and a family, and lost it all.

Apparently, that's not hard to do. It's absolutely amazing how many Americans are just one lost paycheck away from disaster. Considering the state of the safety net in this country, especially for treating the depression that results and then creates even worse conditions, it's absolutely amazing that more people aren't losing it all.

So, this morning when I heard that my Los Angeles Catering client, Emma Tate, is joining forces with a woman from Naples, Florida, to bring cupcakes to homeless people for their birthdays, I remembered that guy, and the look of appreciation on his face for even the smallest gesture of kindness. And I thought, damn, that's a good idea.

As a sufferer of depression, I understand that holidays, especially one as personal as your birthday, are the worst of times for someone who's depressed. And I can only imagine the joy that such a simple gesture must bring to people for whom something as simple as a cupcake is a very special thing. Thank you Emma and Maria, for doing something. Anything. It is so much more than most would do for the least among us.

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