SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 150: The Corner Stand, A Needed Kidney, And A Long Shot

Let me tell you a little more about my 365 process. My goal is to have met, interviewed and photographed my new friends by midnight, every day.

From there, I usually write the article the following morning. Sometimes as early as 5am, and others stressfully rushing for my 4pm time stamp cut off; then off to shoot my friend for the day.

For 150 days, that has been my life, and I’ve managed to fit it well with my work schedule. Today, I sit with a small case of, holly hand grenade! it’s already 12:30pm, the clock is clicking and with a huge workload on my desk, writer block hits me hard.

I waste thirty minutes of trying to be clever in my introduction, and come up with a bunch of whitewash. The day is not pausing for me, so to save you from having to muscle through an obvious attack of contrived thinking and words, you’re getting my blow-by-blow real deal.

And with that purge over, off we go. The Superbowl kicked my butt, seriously hampered my street search for friends, I should have figured that the streets would be empty, but being stubborn to purpose, I do not deviate from my commitment and wander for a friend. To lighten the load, I have enlisted my occasional 365 collaborator, friend Danny. Good thing I do, or I’d go a little stir crazy with the two hours of car commuting we undertake.

Hillel and Danny

It feels very creepy driving the streets like stalkers. In and out of parking lots we journey; no luck, declined by the man rushing to catch the bus, dismissed by the grocery store security guard, gently shrugged of by the embraced couple standing curbside.

We get a few crazy ideas, perhaps a random knock at a motel door, or a skidding chase down of the guy with the punk hair, but even as desperate as I am feeling to find a friend before the bewitching hour, I hold tight to course, knowing that sooner or later, we will find ourselves in the right place, at the right time.

9pm is closing in, when we sight two figures posed in front of a curbside business, the Y&H Corner Stand. A quick U-turn to park and exiting the car Danny says, “Get your camera ready.”

That I do, and my camera itself turns out to be the ice breaker, a huge difference from the alarming responses it created just a few days ago in West Los Angeles.

As we approach Y&H, it’s owner and our friend of the day, Hillel compliments, “Nice camera, will you take a picture of me.”

“Funny you should ask,” I respond as I tell him of 365.

“What’s it cost to take my photo?” is Hillel’s beginning concern.

“Absolutely nothing, you are doing us a service.” I respond as I explain the purpose of 365.

It never fails… Once I have the opportunity to truly communicate the depth of the 365 statement, “We are all in this together,” most understand the reason I am dedicating so much time to its fulfillment and are open to contribute what they can.

Hillel is no exception in his acceptance to become our friend, and he with a common council to 365, “People need to be kind to each other, there is no reason to not at least be friendly.”

And by the way he initially introduced himself to Danny and I, it is apparent that Hillel lives by his standards.

We talk of the sidewalk traffic that passes by his store every day. “I say hi to everyone, and it sad that so many of them do not acknowledge me.”

That’s a theme we have examined for time to time, and one that I too find particularly upsetting. What is the harm in returning a response to a gracious offering?

Hillel puts no salesmanship like spin on his greeting. I know that from the humoristic, warm and honest way he greeted Danny and I. And after meeting hundreds of people on the street in my 365 travels, I am becoming a pretty good judge of the intent of those I meet.

Opps! I used the word judge; please forgive me for that. But my judgment is not a predetermination of character or an assignation of race, religion or culture. It’s more like a developing understanding of human nature and a growing intuition for those around me. You should really try this experiment, it’s life changing and it’s a very easy study to undertake.

I’m inventing a title on the fly as I write. Lets call it the “Four Step”
Step One:  Say hi more often
Step Two: Look
Step Three: Listen
Step Four: If the opportunity presents itself – Engage

And one other side note, keep your openness to receive the hellos too.

Hillel talks of integrity, community and of living by his word, “Too many people live only for money, but money is not everything. And because of that, too many judge by what they have or what they see others having. What is important is that we don’t be stingy, and learn to be happy with living life as best as we can, with what we have. Too many people look at the materialistic.”

Hillel smiles a lot and with a humoristic peace, he expresses, “I’ve been open for about six months, business is difficult, but I get enough for my needs.

As Hillel, Danny and I get deeper acquainted, Hillel exposes a very sensitive subject, “My wife has a Kidney disease and needs a transplant. Can you mention that?

I know, it is a long shot, but if any of you have a lead, or advise, towards a source to support Hillel in finding a donor for his wife, please let me know, I’ll get it to him.

No 365 interview is complete without inquiring of what’s to come.

“I’m worried that there is going to be a war between Iran and Israel. I hope not, and wish that people can grow in getting alone without hate.”

Hillel is from Israel, and has seen first hand the issues he is talking about. I guess we can look at him as someone who has seen the front lines of religions and sociological conflict, and even with this, he is not hardened. And as simple as it sounds Hillel wishes this for all of us, Peace, Love and Happiness.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    I thought that it was a great story, touching and the photos tell the story. The twinkle of the man’s eyes says it all.


  2. I am in fact impreesd by your efforts for making the world a better place to live.But I request you to clarify why Hillel can not donate one of his Kidney to his wife? I am sorry to degrade my own country but I will share it any way. In India there are many poor people who sell their Kidney. I am not suggesting I can arrange one or will ever do it or you should suggest it to Hillel. I will not even tell Hillel to do that but only request you to highlight this fact in your Blog some how that people in the world know this problem of humanity and make people aware that Kidney donation is volunteer and for compassion for humanity. Thanks


  3. Konstantina says:

    I tried this experiment myself, a few times, people react strange they feel surprised, but finally they like it.


  4. phaddman says:

    Wishing Hillel every opportunity for his wife. Having lost a Kidney myself at the age of six or seven I am lucky that I am doing fine with just the one. The body is amazingly adaptable.

    I hope that his obvious warm and open outlook comes back to serve him in the form of helping to keep his wife healthy. Certainly wonderful that you should find him.

    May we all be kinder to each other…


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