I actually don’t have many problems about being stereotyped now.
I used to be homeless for 4 or 5 months from drugs and alcohol. People are funny, when you’re homeless you are invisible, they don’t want to go near you. Most people who are homeless are telling lies anyway. Sometimes they don’t even know it’s a lie, about needing money to buy a ticket or something, because they say it so much they start to believe it.
When I was a server in a restaurant I was also invisible.
Now I am the sommelier at one of the top restaurants in the city, and people are always asking my advice, either telling me that they don’t know anything about wine and don’t want to make a mistake, or they are very knowledgeable and appreciate a lot of specific information about the vineyards.
I’m from Austin, Texas, doing this project. Before I put on a suit and tie, people were treating me like I’m homeless. They would walk further away on the sidewalk, so I’d be like ‘Hello, good afternoon’. Never begging, just like saying something nice. But they’d just walk by without even looking in this direction. The craziest one was in Nashua, I was sitting there drawing and I saw some girl. She obviously liked what I was drawing and so she tried to come over and her friend grabbed her arm and was like ‘Dude, he’s homeless.’ I was like, if I was homeless that would be a really messed up thing to say. Just because someone’s homeless they’re not going to check out what they have?
And the tie and jacket undoes that?
Pretty much. I mean, I still get asked if I’m homeless.