I stopped by Starbuck's one day and happened to have my camera in the car. When I turned off the car, I noticed this somewhat handsome and rugged man sitting at an outside table looking down - looking extremely sad and alone. As I sat there and pondered the idea of asking him if I could take some photographs, I realized that I had never done that before. It was much easier to shoot flowers, nature, people when they weren't looking and animals.
Then I did it! I told him he was handsome and interesting and that I really wanted to use his interesting face as my subject. He acquiesced and said, "nobody ever wants to take my picture".
He asked me why. I said that his look and posture drew me to him and I thought he would photograph well. That's when he said, "I always feel invisible - nobody looks at me or talks to me". That was after I asked if he met at Starbuck's every morning. He told me that he never sleeps and can't wait to get to Starbuck's as soon as it opens at 6 AM.
Bill said there is no way he could get a job - "how can I when I have no confidence? Anyone can pick up on that". I recommended one of my friends help him prepare and train for a job interview. He was open to that and mentioned the idea of working at Target.
We talked and I continued to shoot away. His eyes seemed hollow. Where was his soul? Why did he have that 'blind man' look about him? I kept asking him questions and I noticed that he started to talk more fluently and started sharing more about his life.
I asked him about his family and that's when he put his head down and took a moment before answering.
He had a son and granddaughter whom he saw occasionally. He confessed his son is bipolar which makes the relationship difficult. Bill walks, and walks, and walks. That's what he does. He tries to hurry up the nights as they are very long. I wanted to ask him more about his past, how he ended up in this condition, yet, every time I started to delve deeper, my nerve would dwindle.
Part of him was with me while I snapped away and there was obviously a part of him that was deeply rooted and not letting go.
He gripped his coffee mug and looked down as we talked. Finally, there was a break of mood and his lips expanded and I realized that he had a smile on his face. He said, "I am really enjoying this. Thank you very much for taking my picture. You've made me feel happier than I can remember. Do you think someone would hire me?" I said, "Absolutely!".
Hard to believe it's the same man. Sometimes we just need to be noticed. Let's all remember this lesson.