A man lies asleep on a pedestrian bridge above Las Vegas Boulevard. It is sunset, and sweat drips down my back on a warm February day.
Tourists pass him. Some look and whisper to their mates. Others do not acknowledge the man that sleeps on a duffle bag and has a sign nearby that reads “Please Help! Homeless vet; cash-food; God bless.”
He wears a clean navy Las Vegas shirt and cap that appears to be a match. I’ve seen such inexpensive T-shift and cap bundles countless times in gift shops on the Strip and downtown. I wonder how he acquired the clothing. I wonder if someone bought them for him.
I take one frame and pass the man hurrying to get on my way. I have an assignment to get to– the third of four shoots that day. I notice the bridge is shaking ever so slightly yet the man sleeps. He is a child in a car seat in a deep slumber on a long night drive.
My shoot is relatively quick and before I know it, I am crossing back over the bridge making my way to my car. As I approach the man for a second time, I see that he is still asleep. The slow rise and decent of his chest are the only indications of movement from him now or in my absence.
The sight of him takes me in once again. I have passed numerous others begging for money while out on the Strip that day, but no one catches my curiosity like this man. I stop because I’m compelled to do so. I wait for passersby and take a few more frames. The bridge is really moving this time, and I am aware of the sporadic crowds of people that notice me. I wish to know more about this man and his story. I do not want to wake him and time is not on my side.
The man seems so calm and peaceful. I speculate: A sleeping man on a busy bridge must be unaware of the chaos around him, or perhaps he is so comfortable with his surroundings that he is able to sleep. His legs are crossed and his shoulders relaxed. He looks as though he could be my friend passed out on my big comfy gray couch at home. But he is not at my home or anyone else’s. His place of rest is the street.
*According the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition’s homeless census there were an estimated 34,397 homeless people in Southern Nevada last year.