It was on a New Orleans sidewalk. I had just completed a quick six minute sidewalk show back when I would do about twenty two of those a day. I noticed this homeless guy had made it a point to be the last to stick a buck in my hat. After he put it in he said, "I want you to know this buck came from a homeless guy." So I said to him, maybe you ought to keep it, seems like you need this more than me.
He said "No! We all got together and made sure you have it, because you give us hope out here that maybe we can make it too."
So I said, you know what sir, you're right, I am going to keep this dollar.
He nodded once and walked off.
The Best Dollar I Ever Spent.
Years later I was working Atlantic City. There was a bad homeless problem there at the time, you'd see scores of them laying out on the boardwalk begging.
At that time I was doing bigger twenty minute shows so the hats were bigger, and one day I noticed another homeless guy who made it a point to be the last to come up to the hat, but this time, this guys says to me, "Hey! Gimme some of that money!"
I said, Why should I do that?
He said, "Because I'm homeless!"
I said, OK that's great! you're half way there, I'm homeless too!
I said, All you have to do now, is something.
I said, I tell you what, I'm going to give you a dollar and I want you to go around and tell all your friends I'm going to give them a dollar too, But that will be the last dollar I give anyone unless I see them working like me.
I don't care what they do, sing, dance, tell jokes, make ash trays out of beer cans, something, anything. If I see somebody working and they ask me, I'll give, you got it?
He said yeah and went off and told his friends.
That day I gave out a lot of dollar bills, but for two days after that no one bothered me, it was wonderful, almost worth what I payed for it.
And then the next morning it happened, I was walking down the boards to my pitch and I saw a bag lady standing on a crate singing next to her shopping cart, full of bags and stuff. The singing was terrible, but she was singing her heart out.
And a little way down there was a bum, making ash trays and sailing ships out of beer cans, and on the other side of the street was a man dancing his very best bo-jangles, I saw a guy pacing while he threw jokes out to the passer byes, and all up and down that boardwalk, I saw bums trying.
I was so moved, it nearly broke my heart.