Crosby street is a strange place to live. It will be quiet for weeks, then chaos for a couple of hours. A couple of years ago, when I first bought my house on Crosby, I was struggling to fix it up. I was painting, patching, sanding floors, etc and I was starting to get tired of doing all of the work by myself.
One day, around this time, a skinny black guy came up to me outside the house and asked if he could help. He was rail thin, his face was sunken, and had missing teeth. Clearly, he had signs of crack use.
Well, at this point my house was vacant except for when I came over to work on it each day, so I didn’t have anything to loose. Learning from my friend Myrl, I gave the guy a shot. It can be frustrating, but I try to give people a chance.
He offered to paint the ceiling in what would eventually become my bedroom for $20, I figured if it took an hour to lay down a couple of coats it was worth it. I gave him a ladder, a paint brush, and some paint. I showed him what to do and went in the other room to finish painting some other stuff. About a minute later he called me and said he was done. I chuckled and walked in. Obviously it was NOT done. He had made a few strokes across the ceiling, but it was nowhere near done. I explained to him that I needed it covered better than that, and we went through this cycle a few times. Finally, I gave up, gave him $20 bucks and told him that I could never let him work again – that this was his one chance. He said he understood, and he seemed to feel genuinely bad. I knew it was drugs.
About an hour later I came out on the back steps and this guy was sitting there. I asked, “what are you doing?” He responded, “Oh, not much. Just got a piece of pussy, some weed and some cigarettes.” I thought to myself, “holy shit, I don’t even want to see what you can buy for $5” Eventually, he left. He was sad, entertaining, annoying, and harmless all at the same time. I ran into him several times over the next couple of months. One time, he even came in the house, and my tenant upstairs almost pulled a gun on him. After about six months, I never saw him again. That was about 3 and 1/2 years ago, and I feared he might have died.
About 10 months ago, I ran into him up in Highland Square. He looked better, and he was alive. He seemed depressed and was working at Portage Country Club washing dishes. He said the people were not too friendly and the job was miserable. I felt bad.
Today, I ran into him again, and I found out his name is John Isaiah. I noticed instantly that his face was full, and he had new teeth. Clearly, he was off the crack. He seemed happy to see me and wasn’t depressed at all. He told me it had been ten months and that he had a job at Hopocan Gardens out in Barberton. It was nice to see somebody turn their life around. I noticed he even had a girlfriend with him. It was genuinely good to see him and now he has a name. I know it is cliche, but people really can turn their lives around, this is why I live here on Crosby. I genuinely believe the rich, the poor, and the middle class all need to live next to each other or things will never get any better.