George - Small Steps
I met George in Prague when I was walking the streets with my Hasselblad camera.
At first sight he looked like a homeless alcoholic, slow in his moves standing there behind the massive church.
I cannot remember who of us, said the first hello, but we started talking for sure
I stayed listening to George for almost 2 hours - while taking a few photographs of him.
Turned out that George was indeed homeless - but not an alcoholic - far from it.
He lost everything when Prague was flooded in 2002
We went into a very nice conversation, at first he was a little shy - but after a few minutes he opened up - and told me this story - about losing absolutely everything.
He told me, he used to be chief programmer for IBM, and was holding a job with huge responsibility - and a salary that comes with good jobs. He met a woman who he fell in love with - and he asked for her hand. And this is how George got married. A new 4 room appartment was soon to be purchased, since George had a good saving. Appartment bought in both his wife and his own name.
At the job, times were great - and he was allowed to start his own private business selling computer hardware, while still working at IBM. So he purchased a bunch of IBM servers, IBM switches and anything of that sort - to sell in his own shop - located just by the river Vltava.
The flooding was caused by El Niño phenomenon from Latin-America. Everything in the shop was flooded and flushed away, leaving George with a huge deficit. Shortly after his wife filed for divorce, and the Czech law, gave his wife the appartment - just by law. Czech Women have the upper hand in these matters.
Forced onto the streets, George soon lost his job at IBM, since he could not stand a proper household - clean clothes and a daily shower was now hard to get. So he lost his job.
He had been like that for almost 4 years, and time was taking his toll on him. He told me he feared winter the most, because the year before was really harsh - more of his homeless friends had simply died from hypothermia - and very emotionally, he told me that was the worst.
Then George made a small move, looked me in the eye - and asked me, if he could trust me ? Because he wanted to show me something.
I told him YES, and he went inside his pocket of his worn out jacket - and pulled 800 euro out - and told me that he only needed 200 euro more, for him to buy a new IBM laptop - so he could start programming again - to make a living. He said he just wanted to make some Small Steps to improve his life
Hence the name I “gave him” : George Small-Steps. He left me in awe.
Shortly after, we split up since I had to attend my students, making sure everybody was ready for the bus going back to Denmark. Everybody was there, and I told the story to some of the students. One proclaiming that we should opt for a quick collection of Euro´s amongst the students.
I rushed on my way, and found George where I had left him - and gave him the 200 Euro
Hope he did well :-)