Los Angeles, California

On the concrete divider strip of Venice Blvd in Los Angeles on the south side of the Centinela Ave intersection, a homeless man holds a cardboard sign. It reads as follows:

“I need change.”

This man identifies himself only as “Brobbie.” He accepts quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies and also cash.

“‘I Need Cash’ would actually be a better sign,” Brobbie explains. But then he seems to ponder this, tapping his sandaled foot on the weeds sprouting up from cracks in the cement.

“Nope, what I really need is change. Standing in the middle of this intersection fucking sucks. I should really go somewhere else. I’d be better off if I had never become homeless. I need to change back to how I was before I became homeless. Maybe someone driving by can help me do that.”

But in Brobbie’s six grueling years on the street, such a suitor has never come to call. Only the quarters, the pennies, the dimes.

“What about you?” he peered at me quizzically, his wry eyebrow raising. For a moment he stared at me, curling his face to a snarl. “Can you help a poor fella out?”

“Of course I can!” I replied, “I’m a reporter, my friend!”

I left him with 35 cents.

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