Gray Wolf & Leonidas (Exit Ramp at a Red Light)

“We are all beggars, each in our own ways.” Mark Twain

“He that has neither fools, whores or beggars among his kindred is but a thundergust liar.” Ben Franklin

Gray Wolf-Photography-SwittersB


Leonitus-Dog-Gray Wolf-Photography-SwittersB


Gray Wolf-Leonitus-Photogaphy-SwittersB

Begging, panhandling, the terms usually bounces through my mind with ease and out comes a negative judgement when I see those that are organized panhandlers near exit ramps of area freeways. The captive audience looks away while waiting for the red light to turn green. A very few offer money to a very few panhandlers. I could count on one hand and have fingers left (certainly an inappropriate remark given Gray Wolf’s condition…or is it?) over the number of times I have given to any panhandler. It has been in severely inclement weather and there was no doubt in my mind the person was in throes of desperation to be out there.

Today, as I came off the freeway, I looked ahead to the panhandler’s staging area and saw but one person there. I man ‘confined’ to a wheelchair, with a dog in his lap, a seemingly genuine smile on his face while he waved at passersby. The obvious was in view: wheelchair, artificial limbs, significant scar tissue/skin grafts. A cute dog finished off the image. It dug into my mind as I turned to drive on. It dug further. I had to go back. What!?! ‘I don’t go back for anyone’. But, I did.

Something inspired me to seek a photograph. Something told me I would not be well received. And, I wasn’t. I stood by as he let me know in no uncertain terms he had allowed this once before and was depicted as a loser. I assured him that was not what I had in my mind and that I wanted to photograph him because he was some how part of a special moment for me.

Of course, he looked at me like I was on something. He refused again. I thanked him for his time, bestowed a donation upon him and prepared to depart. Something must have told him I might be different and he asked a few more questions. I explained what I considered SwittersB & Exploring to be about. ‘Ok you can take my picture.” He agreed to a few photos. I took them and he made certain his bio was spelled correctly ‘Gray Wolf…not Grey, GrAy’. He loosened up. I thanked him. He extended his fingerless hand to shake my hand. I accepted and sincerely looked him in the eye and thanked him.  I haven’t said why…I think you know why. Certain things are real…some are almost real…and many are not even close. Gray Wolf was real (and Leonidas) was special too).

19 Responses to “Gray Wolf & Leonidas (Exit Ramp at a Red Light)”

    October 17, 2014 at 00:42

    Its me GRAYWOLF! That day was a good day i got a hot meal a hotel a shower and a real bed to sleep in even got to watch a little tv leo got some real dog food and a well needed bath to. I really wish there was more days like this one because i live in my van and have done so for over a year and a half. 645.00 a month is not enough to find a place to live. Its getting cold out Now if you ever feel like helping in any way i am on the off ramp in portland oregon foster exit 17 off i205 I lookforward to seeing you i will have a wave and a smile for you who knows you might even get lucky and hear my story! Peace be with you all and remember all we have is one another to love and help.


    • October 17, 2014 at 07:53

      Always best wishes my friend. I will always stop if I am up that way. Thanks for writing to update me. Peace and blessing be with you!


    • 3 GRAY WOLF
      December 13, 2014 at 13:36

      I keep haveing people drive and taking pics of me and wrighting crap about me. ITS NOT HELPFULL! PLEASE DONT DO THAT! onlineci am homeless i am out here because i need money for a motel every day and thats what i spend your money on. My birthday is on the 17th of dec so if you feel like helping out i will be on off ramp 17 foster exit offi 205 love you all even the people that dont stop i will always have a wave and smile for you. Its nice if you have the same for me it makes my day love always GRAYWOLF PS THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME DO THE LOARDS WORK WITH MY SMILE AND WAVE.


      • December 13, 2014 at 15:38

        Hey Gray Wolf….I do hope that those that ask to take/or don’t ask to take your pic are having your best interest at heart. Those that criticize should shift to a different exit perhaps. I wish you the very best and I will be by to see you very soon. Early Happy Birthday by the way.


  2. August 20, 2014 at 10:56

    I have met GrayWolf & sweet little Leonidas, they are very nice.:)


  3. 6 CL
    August 20, 2014 at 07:37

    I think I have a soft spot for panhandlers/beggers—other human beings. My mother came from a very poor part of the Philippines. Having ‘made it’ to the US having married an enlisted sailor she never let me forget that having NOTHING meant SOMETHING. So more often than not, I extend what cash I have on hand or a meal. I recall a recent transaction. I was eating at Chipotle and was amazed at how large their burritos are. I cut mine in half and then saw a 20 something y/o ‘traveler’ walk past the window. The look on his face when I gave him that burrito and close to $50 in cash in my pocket was priceless. Well worth the cost of what boils down to tomorrows warmed over lunch and extra money I’d blow on coffee, tying supplies and daily fishing permits.

    Once, when I was a teen I was waiting for my dad to pick me up from work. My father saw me give money to a ‘bum’ as he calls them and said “watch, he’ll go spend that on alcohol.” True to form, we watched him walk into a 7-11 and come out smiling. I said, “See that smile dad? I helped do that. I am not here to judge what someone does with what I give them. I give the gift, that’s all I’m asked to do.”

    My mother has past, and so I give thinking of her. My dad, well I keep working on him to give good tips when we eat, and give a darn about others that have way less than he does.


    • August 20, 2014 at 07:50

      Great story! My Dad, in particular, was from a very poor, violent background in West Virginia. He didn’t give to everyone, but when he recognized a person or family in need, he gave what he had. I see too many organized panhandling crews out (6 to a motel room, arriving in a van, deploying). I get the pooling of resources. I get everyone has a story. Its just when that story is beyond the typical hard luck story, I cannot but help somehow with out intruding or giving the impression of pity. Food, clothing, cash are freely given especially in the Winter. I detest the abuses of govt. programs. Few are truly needy. But, in these times, the options are few even if they wanted to be self sustaining so it is incumbent, I think, for the people to help their fellow man. Yes it feels good, and it is a seed planted. Thanks for the great story and keep working on Dad. Tell him better we give at our own volition than the govt. takes it and squanders it and the needy get little of it.


    • August 21, 2014 at 23:44

      I love that story CL. It is beautiful and it touches my heart sincerely.

      See what you started SwifterB? 🙂
      Love always wins…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. August 20, 2014 at 05:14

    Thank you for sharing this Gary and getting below the surface. ❤


  5. August 20, 2014 at 00:01

    There are very few times in my life that I haven’t given money to a panhandler when asked. This was due to my mother raising me to believe that we were to give as if we were giving unto the Lord. “As we have done unto the least of these you have done it unto me.”(Jesus)
    So, when I was younger, I gave out of guilt and a feeling that I was, “living by the golden rule,” if you will…:)
    Over time I have grown wiser, not older,
    “wink wink.” I have actually paid closer attention to demeanor, and my intuition.
    An example of this was a few months ago. I saw a older man about 65 yrs in tattered cloths on the side of the road in the heat of the day (100° or more) holding the usual sign. We pulled over he looked up and as our eyes met, I felt his crushed spirit. I gave him some money he thanked me gratefully. We parted and my heart cried for his pain.

    In contrast, a few weeks ago (on a Friday evening) there was a panhandler that was a healthy young man in his 20’s, wearing, what looked like new designer clothing, his hat worn backwards, with a sign that read,
    “help! I need gas money.” Lol, I drove on by and laughed, absent of guilt:)

    Anyway I love your article! It inspired me.
    I guess you could tell right? “”Laughs””


  6. August 19, 2014 at 20:49

    I believe you did this and before I got to the end. I knew you ended up with a photo and a beautiful photo journalism piece! Hope you had a great day today. blessings to you sweet friend!


  7. August 19, 2014 at 20:28

    thank you SwittersB for helping me see another side


  8. August 19, 2014 at 19:53

    Following your gut and your heart – always the right things to do; for what you feel inside – no matter the result. Huge smiles.


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