Writer: Leong Ying
Teresa Nacli and Simaan Simaan came into the Chinatown coffee shop to ask me to accompany them outside, so they could introduce me to another person. I wandered outside with them thinking it was one of their local friends in town they wanted me to meet, but instead they pointed to a homeless beggar crouched outside holding a sign begging for help. That fateful day was the 26th April 2017 when I met Tyler Faulkner, the beggar; and still to this day I have no idea why Teresa and Simaan decided to select this one particular homeless person from the many in the city to dump his responsibility onto me.
Homeless beggar in Chinatown
Tyler told me of his sad story of decline from prosperity to life in the gutter: messed up family and wrong friends leading to drug abuse, he even took out his false teeth to show the consequence of being a meth junkie. I had recently created Our Collective, dedicated to bringing goodness to this world, with intention to accomplish such lofty goals on a global scale. And as I listened to Tyler's story, I silently asked myself whether I could indeed save an entire world if I could not even save one beggar.
I took the beggar across the Hudson River from Manhattan to my home town of Hoboken. I clearly set out the rules to him that I would provide assistance, but only if he was willing to help himself. He agreed, and I accepted the challenge to save one beggar before I moved to take on the rest of the world. The assistance I gave Tyler that day at my home was: a hot shower, laundered his clothes, cooked meal, a few dollars, and perhaps the most important thing I gave him, was hope.
It has been over two years, and I got a message from Tyler that he was back in my neighborhood, and wanted to meet; and to show me that the hope I gave him had not been wasted, lunch was on him. So over the meal that he was now able to afford himself, he told me of his continuing adventures after I had proverbially lifted him back onto his feet as that beggar in Chinatown. Since then, Tyler has been employed in a candy store, warehouse, foam insulation installer, and his most adventurous and profitable job in the fishing industry.
May 2018 Tyler worked in Alaska on a small commercial salmon fishing boat crewed by three along with the captain of the vessel. Fish were caught using long lining technique with up to a hundred hooks spaced roughly a foot and a half apart. On a single day fishing, they can cast 5 or more lines. On a one and a half month expedition, he would expect to be paid $6,000. Before going to Alaska, Tyler watched YouTube videos to gain experience and get the names of fishing vessels that he could try to get on board as a crew. Once he arrived in Alaska, he told me that the best place to get information and connect with captains looking for new crew members was the drinking bars around the fishing docks. After the salmon season had ended, Tyler travelled out east and got on board a trawler fishing for Yellow Tail Flounders out in the Grand Banks. Along with working on a larger vessel crewed by 14, the trawler used large nets to dredge for the bottom feeding flounders. His ship could take on board up to half a million pounds of flounders on each 40 days fishing excursion. Typically the crew would be paid a percentage of the total catch, in Tyler's case he was offered 1.2%, which earned him $7,500 including bonuses.
Tyler Faulkner on a trawler fishing for flounders
His experience on the trawler was far worst than what he had enjoyed on the smaller salmon run out west. According to his story, of the original 14 crew members, 8 had decided to quit while out to sea, including the cook. Tyler volunteered to be the new cook, since he could work below decks instead of having to man the dangerous and back-breaking tasks working the nets 16 hours a day. He is now considering whether to captain his own fishing vessel; he tells me that a 30 foot crabbing boat could be purchase for around $35,000 and a season's license for Dungeness crabs for this small boat would be an additional $45,000.
So the beggar I saved had turned into a hard-working adventurer, and I can therefore count that as mission accomplished, as I now turn my attention upon the rest of the world.