Articles, Blog

Sean’s story (Panhandler interview)

October 7, 2019

[Male interviewer] So, what’s your name?
[Sean] My name is Sean.
[Interviewer] Sean? Okay, how are you?
[Sean] I’m alright. [Interviewer] So, what’s your story?
Are you from San Francisco? Well, no, I’m from Riverside.
The LA area. I came up here because I lost my place to live
when I was 17 years old And I came up here to, uh,
My grandparents passed away
I went to their house And, then, so I came up here to try to start over [Interviewer] Was that a long time ago? Yeah, I’ve been up here for about 20 years. [Interviewer] 20 years. So you like it here? Yeah, I like it here [Interviewer] You ever want to go back, down south? No, not really. [Interviewer] No? Okay. I was thinking about it, but I said no,
there’s nothing really down there
because it’s kinda hard to get a job down there, also. [Interviewer] Its better up here, really? Its kinda better. I do little odd jobs.
The flea market they have, in the, in the… I load the cars, I work for a couple people
And I do, uh, you know, they pay me real nice [Interviewer] Do they? So I’ll wait for the flea market
So I do… I just kind of panhandle… [Interviewer] Is that just on weekends,
or is that flea market every day, or? Well, Monday, Thursday, and Friday,
but today’s a holiday [Interviewer] Oh, so you’re not working today. I’m not working today
So I’m just kind of bummin’ around, looking for…
Doin’ other things. [Interviewer] Okay. So, you said you worked in a camera store once? Yeah, I worked in a camera store in 1992
when I first came up here, at Fisherman’s Wharf
They moved, see [Interviewer] Ah, okay, all the tourists and stuff Yeah, all the tourists.
They moved, so I been doing little odd jobs for my hotel
I gotta do some work in my hotel tonight [Interviewer] Oh, okay. What hotel do you stay at, if you don’t mind? The “Adrian”. [Interviewer] “Adrian”, okay. [Sean] Yeah, I do some clean up. [Interviewer] Is it a good place? [Sean] Its alright
Yeah, its safe and its quiet [Sean] To where, to where, I get my monthly check
I get a check for my pay twice a week So tomorrow I get my check
So I’ll be alright tomorrow [Interviewer] Oh, okay, and, uh… Today’s just… just bummin’ around today [Interviewer] What kind of work do you do there?
Do you have any experience, like, contracting sort of stuff?
Like, cleanin’ up, or what? No, no, I don’t have no contracting… no
I just, I just do a little janitorial work I, I, I work with the office people that come through here
They, they uh, help me out [Interviewer] Oh, yeah? Yeah, so I [inaudible] with the families
I look at the problems they have
I can tell them what the problem is We decide what we do with the entire families
that are on the BART [inaudible, mumbling] [Interviewer] So have you ever been married
or anything yourself? No. [Interviewer] No? So, no kids or anything or anything like that No, no. [Interviewer] Ever think you might want to get married some day? I was thinking about it, yeah,
Someday, someday if I find the right woman [Interviewer] Yeah, that’s the trick, right? [laughs] Yeah, if I find the right woman… [Interviewer] Yeah. So, you see Melvin around occasionally? [Sean] Yeah, Melvin’s my friend. [Interviewer] Oh, is he? So you know Melvin? [Sean] Yeah, Melvin’s my friend. [Interviewer] Yeah? [Sean] Yeah, we, we, we do things, we, we talk, me and Melvin
Me and Melvin, me and Melvin, are friends. That’s about it. [Interviewer] Yeah, I’ve put a few videos of his up.
People, some people like it, some don’t, you know.
Its definitely an acquired taste I think. Yeah [Interviewer] Yeah. You ever tried playing an instrument or anything? Ah, I was tryin’ to. I never… [shrugs]
I, I sing little songs, I mean… I was, ah, singin’ off a tape in my little hotel
Just, I’m so busy… But I never really got into the bands, or [inaudible] You know, I got friends that are in bands, but…
Some of the Warner Brothers record labels
Ah, recorded bands [Interviewer] Oh yeah? Because I used to work at Shoreline [Interviewer] Oh really? Yeah, so I met a lot of the bands,
made a lot of friends [Interviewer] What did you do at Shoreline?
[Sean] Security, yeah
[Interviewer] Oh, okay. [Sean] Concert security.
[Interviewer] Yeah
[Sean] Like the bouncers [Interviewer] Yeah, really, did you ever have to, like,
get seriously bad with anybody? No, no, no, no. They… everybody… the crowd complied.
I just kept ’em off the stage
I worked the front of the stage [Melvin shouting in the distance] Alright, see you later! [Interviewer] Hey! See you, Melvin! [Sean] So I was out on the street in San Jose
when I lost my job, but… [Interviewer] Hm, oh. Because the company moved, and uh,
and they kind of left me off [Interviewer] That must be, that must be pretty traumatic,
to lose your job. Yeah. Yeah. [Interviewer] So, like, what’s the first thing you do?
Did you, like, just kinda freak out?
And go crazy, or? No, no, I didn’t freak out.
I went and got some unemployment, and, ah Went and checked into “GA”, General Assistance
And you know, did get some support, uh, County help
You know what I’m sayin’? So where, that’s where I get a Social Security check
Once a month [Interviewer] So that helps, probably. That, that helps, you know,
to where my pay gives me a check twice a week [Interviewer] Yeah. So, the first is Friday, so I get two,
I get three checks next week [Interviewer] Why three checks? Well, cause I get a check on Tuesday from last month
And I get a check on Thursday from last month
Which I have leftover And then Friday I’ll get my first check for [inaudible] [Interviewer] That’s complicated, yeah [Interviewer] So, do you have to go to these check-cashing places
to cash a check, or what?
Cause I hear those are, like, ripoffs, aren’t they?. Yeah, yeah, they got kinda high prices, I, uh
No, I go to the liquor store [Interviewer] Oh, the liquor store Or I go to the bank [Interviewer] And do they charge you anything
for cashing your check? Nope, no, they don’t charge me anything. [Interviewer] Oh, that’s good, that’s good. They charge, like, maybe a dollar. [Interviewer] So, like, if you were looking for the perfect job,
what would you look for, you think? I’d go back into the warehouse work. [Interviewer] Warehouse The shipping/receiving work.
If that was available. [Interviewer] Like, drivin’ forklifts and stuff like that? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah [Interviewer] Drivin’ trucks, maybe? No, no, I don’t have a license,
so I’m not too good of truck driver
[both laughing] [Interviewer, laughing] Oh, okay Um, like, pullin’ orders for restaurants Um, like, ah, just like, ah, machinery, ah
tools, ah tool company, know what I’m sayin’ [Interviewer] Yeah, do you have any…
What’s your education? High school? Yeah, I got a high school education, diploma [Interviewer] Okay, good Um, that’s about it. [Fades out, then back in.]
Just comin’ out here [inaudible] try to raise some money
People don’t bother you [Interviewer] Does it work?
Do you find people treat you with respect, generally? Yeah, yeah, they, uh, they, uh, they’re real generous.
Today its kinda slow, but I just came down here… [Interviewer] Yeah, it’s Memorial Day, right? Cause I was lookin’ to, ah, sell [inaudible, mumbles]
To where its Memorial Day But tomorrow, my office people come in,
And, and, they’ll help me out. And, ah, I’ll be alright tomorrow when I get my check And I gotta… I’m in a, like an outpatient program at Citywide
So I go to groups and things, keep me out of trouble For my, for my, um, for my schizophrenia,
cause when I talk to myself… Like I’m not, not real crazy, but you know like, I hear voices
I talk to the voices, like I was just doin’… [Interviewer] Yeah And that’s just it, um, that’s it, so where I go,
its Citywide for the mental, uh health, uh [Interviewer] Do they give you medicine and stuff? Yeah, I take Risperdal.
That’s, uh, its uh, its a side med where
it slows the thinkin’ down. [Interviewer] Oh, okay
[Sean] [Inaudible mumbling]
[Interviewer] Does it have, like bad side effects or anything?
[Sean] No, no, no.
[Interviewer] No? Oh, so that’s good. [Sean] I get shots twice a week.
[Interviewer] Ah, that’s cool.
[Sean] So like on the 7th, I’ll go get my shot again.
[Interviewer] Yeah. Alright.
[Sean] Yeah. [Interviewer] Well, thanks a lot for the interview,
[Interviewer] I appreciate it.
[Sean] Alright, thanks.


  • Reply handstandish February 5, 2013 at 8:44 am

    These are real people you are interviewing. This is history. You are doing good work. On TV we get a false reading of the real world. Great work Mr Party of the Third Eye! I am in Australia. By the way I am a fan of Melvin's way out music. I like your kind respectful way with these people. You have compassion, a great attribute.

  • Reply Jason Payne May 12, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Great video.

  • Reply Jason Borne September 25, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    I see this guy almost every day at Civic Center.

  • Reply magicnut January 9, 2018 at 11:15 am

    3:38 The legend himself

  • Leave a Reply