Dear Hobo,

I appreciate seeing you during my commute on the corner of Speer and Blake, because when I see you I know I am on my way home. I also enjoy the can-do-never-give-up attitude you exhibit on a daily basis. I understand things can happen in life and not everyone has the ability to hold down a job, it happens. And I’m sure the recent state of the economy hasn’t helped either. But these things haven’t stopped you from trying to live a white collar dream and get fast, easy, unearned cash from hard working people.

But you don’t bother me because I’m usually on a bus, or in my car with working windows, or nowhere near you as I am never at the front of the line at that stupid god damned light (but that’s an issue in a different angry letter I’m writing). Though I am not directly bothered, I do wish you would offer some kind of trade in exchange for the money you ask of people, perhaps play an instrument, clean their windshields (you know, I see people doing this in movies, but I have never seen a hobo do this in real life. Do any hobos actually do this?), give a synopsis of the last TV show you watched. Anything that’ll make a person think they’re getting something for their money.

I see you and other hobos every morning amongst the tree filled median thing, it’s like a small park, smaller than most parks, but bigger than most median. I don’t really know what to call it, but it splits the traffic and has a small thicket of trees. You all sit there in what I believe to be a hobo picnic, and I wonder what exactly the conversation consists of. Do you discuss the previous day’s income? Figure out the options for the upcoming winter? Gossip about the Civic Center Park hobos? I can only venture to guess what goes on over there. But from what I have seen, one thing you don’t discuss is the best possible options in which to obtain financial gain. Or if you have, then you’re not trying very hard because it has been my observation your best, nay, your only plan is the cardboard sign.

I am not a fan of this plan. These signs have become a staple of the hobo community, as common place in any thriving city as yellow cabs, hot dog vendors, and anthropomorphic reptiles fighting crime. Ok maybe that last one is only prevalent in New York, I can’t be certain, I understand they are quite stealthy for giant reptiles. But my biggest concern with these signs is two-fold. A) I’m expected to pay for reading? There is so much free reading around me almost constantly that I can’t justify an additional reading fee in my life. And B) people don’t try hard enough or they try too hard on these signs.

You, Mr. Hobo at Speer and Blake, are one of the people trying too hard. Part of me appreciates your attempts to be cleaver, but please take a minute or two, and sure you can spare them, and consider what you’re putting down on that cardboard. Specifically I am talking about the last two signs I have seen you holding.

First let’s start with this gem,

“Spaceship broken. Need money for repairs.”

Changing it up from the usual crap adorning the cardboard around the city is a good start. But let’s break this down. At one point in your life you were in possession of a spaceship. My first thought here is perhaps you are space-being come to earth for a vacation or scouting a new home. I could hypothesize many reasons for you interplanetary visit, but that is not the point. So you have come to earth from afar and in the process something has caused your spaceship to not function properly, a wreck or dead battery or faulty jiggamagiz (I believe that part is only in the newer models). I don’t know. I’m not sure how spaceships work, which is the first problem.

The local auto mechanic is not going to know how to repair you intergalactic Prius. Most likely your spaceship is going to consist of materials from your planet, have a design and engineering based on your planetary system. As Americans we still have problems with the metric system, so whatever you got going on out there in far off space is only going to confuse the hell out of us. We have to have separate auto shops for foreign cars, these are still earth cars, but even they’re too different. Point being, I’m not giving you money for something that can’t be fixed.

Sure maybe NASA could fix it, but last time I checked NASA was nowhere near Colorado. So now I’m thinking you need additional money to get your busted ship towed to Houston or Florida. Which also tells me you haven’t gotten a quote on this busted ass thing. This is not how the world works. You know what would happen if I walked into a bank, went to a loan officer and said, “Hi. I need some money. I’m not sure how much, but whatever you want to give me would help, and I’ll go next door and ask them too. Thanks.”? Yeah they would laugh at me, and possibly call security.

But if you were a space alien, you wouldn’t know these things.

Now it’s very unrealistic to assume you’re an alien, so this means you, as a human, have designed and built a spaceship. From what I have been told, this is no easy feat, so that is impressive. But as one who can design and build a spaceship, even if it is faulty, it would be me guess you could very easily find work with a nice salary. And as such I will not give you money.

Maybe you didn’t build it. Which means you either came upon it illegally, or you were somehow able to buy it. If it was obtained via illegal means, I would advise not advertising that you had it. A lot of cars pass by you, and you have no idea who is in them.

If you legally bought then thing, then it’s my assumption you have a pretty sweet job and should be able to afford the repairs. If not, then I think you make poor decisions with your money and I can’t support that.

Then you disappeared. This made me think I was wrong on everyone of mine thoughts. Your sign had apparently worked, and I apologize.

Or at least I would have had you not showed up again with a new sign. Someone must have informed you to the flaws you may have missed. However, your new sign is not much better.

“Wife kidnapped by ninjas. Need $ for karate lessons.”

Wow. Again I appreciate the attempt, and again you didn’t think this through.

First flaw, if your wife was kidnapped by ninjas, you would never know it was ninjas. That’s what ninjas do. Secondly because ninjas are awesome at what they do, which essentially is being awesome, they’re services are not easy to come by, so if you’re going to hire them it’s going to be for a big deal: stealing the hope diamond, finding Walt Disney’s frozen corpse, or stopping George Lucas from constantly dicking with classic movies. You’re not going to hire ninjas to kidnap the wife of some average schmuck. Now I’m not trying to say your wife is not worth it, but rather you’re not the kind of people who would warrant a ninja-grade kidnapping. But don’t take it personally, very few are.

Second, you’re going to need a lot more than just karate to defeat ninjas. So this is another example when I would just be throwing money away. And if movies have taught me anything (and since hobos don’t clean windshields, it’s clear they haven’t) then you can get karate lessons in exchange for doing some chores for an elderly Asian man.

However, as I write this I realize that just maybe since you know it was ninjas kidnapping your wife, then they aren’t good real ninjas, then maybe karate lessons would aid you. But you are still facing more than one ninja (based on that “S” you included in your sign) and then karate probably still wouldn’t help. Seriously, you might stand a chance against two guys, but you have to be a badass to take on multiple people in hand-to-hand combat.

I would just really appreciate it if speny more time on your signs. Apply some critical thinking before putting any ink down.

But then again what do I know. I mean in one day, with your nine or so words, you have probably made more than I have in two years with somewhere close to 400,000 words. So just imagine how much more you could make if your signs were better.

I know you’ll figure it out, and eventually pull yourself out. You’re creative and many creative people have been discovered on the streets and snatched up and catapulted into celebrity status. People like, um, Kimbo Slice. Yeah, he was discovered on the streets and made famous. But wait, he wasn’t creative. Oh well, you’ll think of something, maybe.


Lee S. Hart

P.S. Where do you get a marker to write the signs? I’m sure the cardboard can easily be found around any dumpster, but where does the marker come from? Do homeless shelters supply them, or do you budget from the start of panhandling in order to purchase one? Seriously, where does it come from?