I have had a cranking busy week at work trying to get ready for a vacation. Vacations are cool. Doing 2 weeks worth of work to go on vacation is not so cool. Needless to say, I needed to get out and fish. It has been super hot and I have been super busy. I only had an hour to fish, so I packed my vest and rod in the car and headed to South Side Park. Remember, I am already a spectacle as a fly fisherman in the city. People fish this small pond in a city park quite often, but most are bottom fishing for catfish. No one is fly fishing.
I got to spend a relaxing hour fly fishing. I only caught 2 small bluegill. I never said I was any good. It was just what I needed to get my fix and recover some balance in my life. Then a crazy thing happened. 3 guys under a park pavilion yell, "hey mister fisherman, do you want a beer?" I look around and I noticed that I must be the "mister fisherman". I holler back in a joking manner, "what kind!" Now you must know 2 things. I hardly ever drink and I actually don't like beer at all. Plus, I am a little guy. Pair that with not drinking much and you can guess that I don't handle alcohol very well. So, the guy brings me a budweiser in a can. What was I going to do? It was hot out and he left me no choice by bringing over this ice cold beer. In an effort to be friendly I take the beer and follow him back to his friends under the pavilion. I then spent the next hour drinking a beer with 3 guys I have never met talking about life. The craziest thing was that 1 guy was homeless and lived in the park woods. That blew my mind. All he had was a bicycle and trash bag. He kept the beer cans. He had 2 rolls of toilet paper, 2 loafs of bread, ham and some pizza in his trash bag. He was just riding around the park and the other 2 guys invited him over for a beer as well.
This was obviously a very uncommon event for me. The thing that was crazy was that it seemed perfectly normal. It didn't matter that we were strangers. It didn't even matter that one guy was homeless. Social status and race didn't matter. It didn't matter that I don't like beer. Nothing mattered. It was just people hanging out talking about life and enjoying the night. Everything was so simple. Each guy was equal.
I got a healthy dose of perspective tonight as I drove home after fishing for recreation knowing that Jacob (the homeless guy) was going to camp in the woods where he lived.
I will never forget this fishing trip. I didn't even catch fish worth remembering, but I will never forget this trip to the city lake.