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The Bums of Long Beach

July 17th, 2013 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Long Beach, Paris, Rome, Travel, UAE

A few years in Abu Dhabi might lead a person to believe homelessness is not a significant problem around the world.

In the UAE, everyone has a job … or they are headed for the airport. It’s the law.

Which can lead to some jarring sensations, when you leave the UAE and touch down almost anywhere else. Such as Long Beach.

Today, we encountered the same guy three times in about an hour.

We were sitting in a bank when we saw an unwashed guy in dirty sweats and a ski cap reaches down into a trash can to pluck up a can of Red Bull.

We were behind tinted glass, at the time, sitting at a perspective which opened onto Second Street, the upscale business and dining area in Belmont Shore, near the ocean. And the sidewalk the homeless guy was trolling.

He looked carefully at the can of Red Bull … then begin to wiggle off the aluminum tab/opener, and I thought perhaps he was collecting cans. But when he finally got the tab off, he put the can to his bearded lips and drank it down. Maybe one-third of a can. He seemed quite pleased.

He put the can back, then pulled out a plastic water bottle, examined it, apparently found it almost empty, and returned it to the can.

He looked at the bank, right at us, actually, as if he could see us. Which he could not. Still, seemed a little creepy.

Earlier, when we had parked, the same guy was heading the other way on Second Street, having a vigorous discussion with himself.

Long Beach has something of a reputation for homeless people. Particularly downtown. Not so much on Second Street.

The city does a biennial census of the homeless, and the 2013 count found 4,387 homeless people, and I would guess that number is low, given that homeless people do not necessarily haunt the same few neighborhoods.

A block away, a woman had wedged herself into a corner in front of an empty storefront and had laid out a batch of post cards. She also held a sign, written on a piece of cardboard: “I am hungry.”

None of that is unusual in Paris or Barcelona or Rome or New York. Or Long Beach.

You do not, however, see it in Abu Dhabi.


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