Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sam Kosko

I saw Sam yesterday. He told me about this article that had been written about him.
There is much more to Sam than appears in the article above. Sam is very clear headed and very intelligent. He doesn't use alcohol or drugs. Pan handling and playing his uke down at Union Station in Washington, D.C. is his job. That is what he calls it. He told me that he will have to work on Thanksgiving. The take is very good this time of year. The day before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving are prime days for panhandling. Same for the days before Christmas and Christmas day.
And here is a link to an article about the Poe Toaster in Baltimore that mentions Sam Kosko.

I suggested to Sam that he panhandle and play his uke outside the metro station at the baseball stadium. That worked out very well also.

When I first met Sam he was sleeping outside in the winter in a sleeping bag at a bustop outside of McDonald's in Arlington, Va.
  He would come inside in the morning and sit in a booth a appear to be sleeping. Finally he was told to leave because he smelled so bad.
  But he has cleaned up and that manager has left and he is no longer banned from that McDonald's. But he spends most of his time outside Central Library in Arlington on weekends and goes to his job at Union Station during the week.

Recently some social service agency found him a room in N.E. D.C. where he can sleep this winter.

I have written about Sam before on this blog. Below is what I have written before about Sam Kosko.

I have a friend here named Sam who plays the ukulele. He is homeless and plays his ukulele and also pan handles down at the train station in D.C. Union station is a good place to pan handle even though someone stole his ukulele when he went to the bathroom even though he had asked someone to watch his stuff while he was gone.

I was told he did right well the two days before Christmas panhandling outside Union Station. He got 180 dollars each day. $360.00 for two days is not bad. Some gave him 5 dollars some gave him ten dollars and even a few twenties. Churches took up collections and put them in envelopes. The little children would put their one dollars or so in also. Then someone would deliver the envelopes to Sam and hand them to him.

Sam has dirty clothes and long hair. He really looks the part. He also has a sad expression on his face. Very rarely does he look people in the eye. He keeps his head and eyes lowered. Sam is a very smart well educated person. He has worked before but now he lives on the street. He keeps his possessions in a storage unit. He pays for the storage unit each month but does not have an apartment or a room. The homeless in Arlington get food every day from local churches. They had a Christmas meal from 2pm to 4pm yesterday at a church here in Arlington. Sam was there I was told by someone this morning.

Sam has been banned from several places where he would go to get warm. One of them is the library. They have a rule that you cannot sleep in the library. They warn the sleepers once and then ban them the next time they catch them sleeping.

I first saw Sam last year sleeping out in the cold in a bus shelter. He would sleep in his sleeping bag all night and then later come in the McDonald's and go sit quietly in a booth and go to sleep. They let him do this for a long time. I finally went over and struck up a conversation with him. I was surprised to find he was so well read and well educated. And he has talent also. He is quite good on the ukulele and is a good singer as well.

But the people that come in McDonald's finally complained that he smelled bad and he was told to leave and not come back. So he stayed outside in the cold.

Last year there was also a woman who slept out there in the bus stop shelters. She finally drove Sam away because she would not stick to one shelter. She kept moving back and forth to the one across the street and leaving a big mess which Sam said attracted rats. So he left and now sleeps somewhere down near the Central Library. He takes to metro into Union Station each day and comes back in the evening.

I went looking for him today down by the library but he was not there. I feel he must be down at Union Station doing his thing.

A-SPAN helps the homeless in Arlington, Va.