A moving video posted on YouTube nearly a year ago is starting to get viral play now as the social news site Reddit is seeking out the homeless man it features, giving an honest account of what it feels like to be on the streets, looking for a job and to be called a bum.
Ronald Davis of Chicago says in the video that he has been homeless for about a year and a half. The video was posted in July, so he has been homeless for at least two years now. He doesn’t say why.
He has slept under bridges, in cardboard boxes and on benches when he doesn’t have enough money for the flophouse, a place where it costs $16 for 24 hours.
“I go fill out applications for a job and stuff. They look at me, you know, I’m not looking presentable and they ‘well, we’ll call you. Leave a number.’ But how can I leave a number when I don’t have a phone?” Davis says.
Davis’ morning panhandling near the train station downtown starts at 6 a.m.
“I depend on the people that’s coming off the train, because most of them, I give them respect. Most of them like me,” he said, noting that many will give him clothes, food or a few bucks.
“It’s really humiliating to be shaking a cup 24 hours a day and people looking at you like you’re some kind of bum. I have people who walk past me and say ‘Get a job, bum.’ And I say, ‘wait a minute, I’m not a bum, I’m a human being,'” Davis said beginning to choke up.
“At the end of the day, when people go home and everybody gets on the Metra train …and then I just feel so bad that I can’t be going home,” he said apologizing to the person filming him because he was starting to get teary. “It’s really emotional because I’m really trying to get myself together and get off this street.”
Davis said he doesn’t care what work would be given to him, but only wants something. Panhandling has taken away all his pride. He said, at times, people look at him like he is a crumb.
Still, “no matter what people think about me, I know I’m a human person.”
“And just ’cause I’m down on my luck don’t give nobody no excuse to call me no bum. Because I’m not.”
Watch the video of Davis:
The video was made by Andrew Messer when he was a student filmmaker. It inspired a series for Indiana public TV called “Big Questions,” which is being produced with the help of DePaul University in Chicago to “examine important issues at home and around the world.”
The series website has picked up on the activity of Redditors trying to find and help Davis.
“We are truly touched that so many people have been moved by Ronald’s story and that so many people have offered been so willing to help,” the website stated.
How has the effort to track down Davis gone for Redditors so far?
The Redditor going by wookiee_balls wrote that Davis “doesn’t need money, he needs an opportunity.”
“As a restaurant manager myself with a homeless shelter only a block away, I know my establishment has given plenty of people opportunities as a dishwasher and they’ve completely turned their lives around,” wookiee_balls wrote.
In an update, wookie_balls wrote that a fellow Redditor going by EuroDucky found Davis and “delivered a care package of goodies.” As far as wookie_balls — who seems to live somewhere other than Chicago — knows, there has not been a job opportunity for Davis yet.
Read more of Reddit’s search here.
This story has been updated to correct the name of the TV series.