At first sight, 33 year-old Nicholas Mittel was just another guy down on Market Street. He was not asking for money, though, although he looked like someone who probably did not have a home. Another so-called homeless man in San Francisco.
He was busy working on a flower. A rose-like flower made of flax grass, part of a plant he took from somewhere along the way. A finished rose is displayed on an empty bottle of Yerba Mate.
-“$3 or $5 each, or nothing if you can’t afford it,” he says.
Passers-by looked intrigued at the rose and at the man. Nicholas was busy. A young Asian woman stopped and bought one. A couple visiting from North Dakota bought six. A man stopped and asked for one too. It was a good day, a late afternoon on a Thursday.
“Making art is better than just holding a sign,” Nicholas told me and others. “When you are asking for money, and about 500 people pass by and don’t even look at you, it hurts.”
The group of us, half buyers and half talkers, were listening. “At the very least we need to be acknowledged. Say good morning, say you don’t have anything now, but next time,” the eloquent, well-spoken man said.
The smell of marihuana was evident. The same smell that hits you many times in many places in San Francisco these days. Then, he started talking about certain stuff. The stuff that makes us think that people are crazy: reincarnation, the many years of knowledge his brain holds, and how the city is now different, full of spirits that he does not like. Yet, he stroke me as very intelligent, kind, and eloquent.
Just another guy down on Market Street.
-Lupita Franco Peimbert.