INSPIRATION: Homeless Russian Santa Claus


Usually, if the title is prefaced by “INSPIRATION,” I’m just showing off something I photographed that will result in a painting or some other art or whatever. But this is a story – a true story… in fact, it JUST happened no more than 30 minutes ago – that completely blows my mind, and if I wasn’t there, I’m not sure I’d believe it myself.

I make a living working for a massive advertising giant in New York City. It should be illegal how much food gets wasted for board/client meetings. It’s probably the same at every megabucks corporation under the sun, but it absolutely sickens me to see food wasted on such a grand scale.

TANGENT: Who am I kidding? FOOD WASTED ON ANY SCALE SICKENS ME. Some lady at Baja Fresh threw away her entire burrito bowl – it looked like she had two bites – as she bragged to her friends about getting ready for bikini season. One, she was at least 54 years old. No one gives a shit what she looks like in a bikini. Two, America, what the fuck is wrong with you? This woman not only wastes food, she wastes money. $10 down the toilet for a couple bites of rice and chicken? I just don’t understand the humans and their out-of-whack priorities, especially in a slumping economy.

To my company’s credit, sometimes I’ll get notice, via the Whisper Railroad, that there are leftovers for the taking. Platters of food – sandwiches, fruits, veggies, cheese, whatever – are spread across the cafe counter, and its common knowledge its all up for grabs. Sometimes, the boys in charge of prepping/cleaning meeting rooms just chuck the food without telling anyone, and I’ll never get that. Are they too lazy/busy to tell anyone there are free pesto chicken sandwiches that some big shots weren’t interested in? Guess what? I’M INTERESTED.

Every week, there is a batch of fresh bagels that get tossed in the trash if no one takes them off the counter. Lately, I’ve been snagging them all, a few to eat after marathon training runs over the course of a week, the rest to give to the bums I pass when I’m riding my bike home.

After that long and winding preamble, this is where it gets whoamymindisblown.

Tonight’s haul closed in on a dozen. I wrapped them individually as I usually do and was on my way. So I reach Russian Santa Claus at the corner of Park Ave and 54th Street, and since he’s my first stop, he gets the pick of the litter. With such a good night of bagel bilking, his options were varied. Russian Santa took a sesame seeder. I offered him an extra one, and HE REFUSED IT.

“Eat,” he said.

I explained that these bagels weren’t for me, that I had enough food.

“Give someone,” he replied. His English was broken, but it’s clear that he wanted me to share the wealth with others.

I made my other usual rounds on the way home, but that really hit me. This guy has a blanket and a cardboard box to place atop a heat-emitting grate, nothing else. Who knows where his next meal is coming from, and he still has the generosity in his heart to tell me to find some other downtrodden person to hand an everything bagel.

That’s so amazing to me.

Or maybe Russian Santa Claus doesn’t like poppy seeds.

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4 thoughts on “INSPIRATION: Homeless Russian Santa Claus

  1. Not sure if relevant, but you might want to check out Food From The Heart movement, it collects leftover food from bakeries and such and delivers them via volunteer drivers (evenings) to the elderly and orphanages. Not sure if available everywhere, but it’s great, Cus it’s simple to work as a volunteer (just drive and deliver) and everyone benefits, including the Earth.

    1. I’ve worked with a few different food-based charities in the past, and every time, there is a shitload of red tape to cut through that I don’t give a damn about, or they are wasteful themselves. I won’t get into it, but Feeding America comes to mind.

      Here’s a hungry person. Oh my, look! I have food. Here you go, hungry fella. It should be that simple.

      1. HUnger in America really pisses me off, and now you got me all fired up again! (menacing voice) I’ll get you for this, wilsonkhoo, if its the last thing I do!

      2. Not sure about the US, but too much corruption where I come from. Pastors and Charity Leaders have stolen millions in Singapore. Money is the root of all evil unfortunately. Keep up the good fight and keep giving out them bagels!

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