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challenge : have a sincere converstation with a complete stranger

It was 1:30 AM on the corner of 45th and Madison in midtown Manhattan as we strolled hand in hand talking about our day. Becca and I were heading back to the hotel after a long night of sight seeing when we heard a soft voice speak to us. We looked up to find an middle aged man with gray beard toting a ragged old rolling suitcase with 6 balloons – 3 red and 3 white – wrapped around the extendable handle. His small wooden cane held his fragile hunched body as he asked us if we could spare some change. As I reached into my pockets to retrieve my one dollar coins that we were handed by the cashier at the Empire State Building just hours before I asked him for his name to which he replied Jay. I then asked Jay how long he has lived in NY and he told us that he has lived here for 32 years. We proceeded to get to know Jay as I dug through my pockets, I knew I had some money in there somewhere. I finally found what I was looking for and handed him a couple of dollars. I asked Jay if I could make is photograph and he kindly obliged. In our short 5 minute conversation with Jay we learned so much from him about his family, how he became homeless and that sleeping in the shelters is more risky than sleeping on the streets. As he walked away, I snapped one last image of him. I asked him to meet us in the same place the next night and we would bring him some more money. Although he didn’t show up and more than likely we will never see Jay again the impact of that conversation will stay with me forever.

I challenge each of you to take a minute and have a conversation with a complete stranger… they don’t have to be homeless just take some time out of your busy life and have a sincere conversation with someone that you normally wouldn’t have spoken with. You never know… you might enjoy it.

These images were taken at 1:30 AM on the mostly empty streets of NY.

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