|Narrow Geneva Ave island seen between cars|
Marta was driving along Geneva Avenue in Daly City when her daughter Karla noticed an old Caucasian man reading a book while pacing on the island across the entrance to Bart station. The man had grey beard and wore a brown hooded coat. Karla took note of the book he was holding. She recognized the book cover as Harry Potter.
The next time they are in the area the man was not there. They passed several times and didn’t catch the man again. Then one day, just when they have given up on seeing the old man, he was there pacing the island with his book in hand. Then the driver of the car in front of them handed the old man some money. The mother and daughter realized the old man is a mendicant. The book reading must be some kind of stage prop for his business. Then Karla saw the book cover.
“Mom the man is reading Sherlock Holmes! Last time he was reading Harry Potter. I thought he was pretending to be reading but if he is changing books then he must be really finishing them. The man is amazing!” Karla said to her mother beside her.
There is a sign by the post right next to where the man pace around that says “No Mendicants”. The man does not ask the motorists for money. He signals with his hand going towards his mouth that he needs money for food. Some motorist actually stretch an arm through the window with a dollar bill. Marta is thrifty like most Filipinos. She had to think twice if she should let hard earned money fly out her car window.
What her daughter saw in the man compelled Marta to dig in her purse. She swore that she will hand the man something each time she finds him. In these days when book stores are closing one by one because people played video games instead of read, the reading man of Geneva is a model for those who would not look the other way.
The Bible predicted “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.” (Mark 13:8) Michael Jackson sang We Are The World about a famine in Africa that killed 80,000. In 1974 George Harrison, sang Bangladesh about a famine that killed 1.5 million. But there is a famine no one is singing about, the starving homeless living in cardboard boxes, benches and under bridges. Every city, state and country has them. If we can put them all in one place we will see the biggest famine of all time surrounded by food chains they can’t afford to buy.