The day of the Women’s March, the day I was hoping to get something to eat and fate sucked me onto the wrong train, I was hungry and tired. After not being able to eat at what is considered the 12th best deli here I was feeling slightly drained. Hunger pangs had settled in my gut and the slogans from the march were still ringing near my lobes.
Now I know what I am about to say will make most cringe – but homeless people in Portland are the only downside to a great visit. Before people vent on social media, can the defense state that when the proper denomination of currency is available I support their cause. I will engage and make conversation.
The problem was in a 4 block sojurn I was stopped by 13 people asking for money. With the tipping culture you tend to hold little or no coins so you unless you want to hand over $20, circumstances dictate I have little to donate.
The first person always is at the lights with a “can I ask you…?”. I had a man who had a suit on saying he had lost all his stuff. Seriously, the plot of “While You Were Sleeping” was more believable. Fast forward to the corner of 7th & Burnside when an African-American man ran across the street.
“Man, have you got any money that I could get some applejuice?”
“No mate, sorry”
Noticing my accent, “You from Australia? Have you heard of Mitch Fanning?”
“The surfer… yes.”
“And Mark Occhilupo? I met him when I was 15.”
Mark and him took different forks in the road some twenty years back. But being a betting man I thought let’s make an unloseable wager and my conscience would be clear as I trudge up the hill, still hungry as shit.
“Listen, I have only $20 note on me, that’s it. But I tell you what, if you cs8n spell his last name I will give you that. Make a mistake and you get nothing. That is the best I can do.”
“O-C-C-H-I-L-U-P-O”, he said confidentially and then just to rub it in, he said his real first name was not Mark, but rather Marco.
I gave him the money and swore out loud all the way home as if I had Tourettes. As fate would have it I saw him again a couple of days later but I wasn’t going to go double or nothing. Who knows he could probably spell “Philippouiss” or “Trbojevic” and there goes my nest egg?