A face in the crowd


This guy has been basically living on the Berkeley campus for the last 15 years.  About 6-foot-4. Red-head.  I’ll often see him slowly wandering across the campus like a ghost. A specter. A blanket draped over his shoulders, his meager possessions in a plastic bag. Scrounges for food in the campus garbage cans. Never talks to anybody. But often mumbles to himself, this eerie inner monologue from the twilight zone.

At night he sleeps on the sidewalk on Bancroft just off UC property. I’ll often see him there during frigid winter nights, sleeping right on the cold concrete with nothing but a ratty blanket for warmth. Or getting soaked during a winter rainstorm.

When he first hit the campus 15 years ago he was pretty straight looking. Collegiate looking even.  He stood tall and straight, had neatly-cut red hair, and clean clothes. But every year you could actually see him getting more and more worn down. Stooped over. Often dressed in rags. As he shuffled from nowhere to nowhere.

The guy is completely crazy. And completely harmless. At least to other people. If not to himself. It’s a sad fact of life in modern American that there are many people with serious mental problems, who are barely able to function. With nowhere to go, and nobody to help them. They wander the street, surviving as best they can, with what little resources they can muster. Until they finally wear down from the attrition of the streets, and die. Alone and unnoticed.


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