travel

immigrants, UNT, graduation, students, Spanish

Barbara and Ana

Barbara and Ana: Sisters

The two sat on a bench facing Denton City Hall. After interviewing Megan, I walk around the building and spot Gloria and Gladys but decide to interview them afterward.

Barbara is social, but only if she likes you so make a good impression. Ana says Barbara won’t talk to people she doesn’t like them, preferring to avoid them. Ana seemed shy throughout the interview and let Barbara do most of the talking. I figured I’d let the two (mostly) speak for themselves.

Barbara and Ana: Dialogue

Barbara and Ana became best friends two years ago while students at the University of North Texas. Below is the transcription of how the two met to introduce them and so you can read how the interview went.

“We got some baked goods and decided it was nice and then the wind started,” Barbara says.

“[We are] just friends,” Ana says. “Really good friends.”

“JUST friends, I’d say that we’re sisters. Chosen sisters.”

“We met through a mutual friend who we don’t hang out with in our apartment because we lived together.”

“She didn’t talk to me the first time and…”

“You were really awkward!”

“Apparently I was really awkward.”

“She was really awkward. Really awkward.”

“As opposed to now…”

“Anyway.”

“After that, I don’t know where I saw her.”

“Political science.”

“One of those really awful intro political science class at UNT full of freshman.”

“When you’re not a freshman.”

“Right, and then she was like, oh this person is not crazy…”

“Well because we no longer hung out with her.”

“It all worked out. She ignored us, in a good way.”

Barbara and Ana: Educated

Barbara will graduate in May designated Summa cum laude with a major in international security and diplomacy and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. Ana, studying business, has a year left.

“Whenever people ask me [what do you want to do after you graduate], I just want to pour out this long, complicated existential answer for them. They’ll be like ‘alright dude, you don’t know what you’re doing.’ No, I’m applying for law school. I don’t think that’s going to work out so I might just …see what happens. I’m not sure…” Barbara says, nervously snickering. “She has more of a plan than I do,” Barbara adds quickly to change the focus.

“What! I have no plan. I’m going to graduate and work in the business world. That’s not a plan. Well, my dad works in the business world so I have connections I guess. We’ll see where that goes. Someday I want to own a bakery so anything in between is just getting me there,” Ana says.

“We were staking out the competition. That’s really what it was. They thought we were going there just for muffins.”

“We should do some chemical analysis and see what they put in there.”

For now, Ana is a nanny and Barbara is unemployed, having just finished an internship at the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Have you ever seen the Devil Wears Prada? That minus the Prada,” Barbara says. “So I’m glad that that was over. It taught me that even though people have these titles Former Ambassador of Whatever doesn’t mean they’re good people or educated for that matter. Some didn’t know where Ukraine was.  But as far as a job goes, I’m looking at the bakery right now. It’s another way of infiltrating and getting their secrets.”

Ana: Origins

Ana, from Grapevine, is originally from Puerto Rico and mostly grew up there. Her father, who worked at a Spanish bank in Puerto Rico, was transferred to Chile where she lived through the ages of 7 to 10 and “it was beautiful, but the people are really cold and very superficial so it’s kind of hard to fit in right away.”

She has lived in the “Fifty States” for nine years now. The native Spanish-speaker learned English in Kindergarten and by living here, her accent disappeared.

“Finding out my grandfather has Alzheimer’s was my worst moment. I’m close with him. I don’t really talk to my dad’s side of the family so my mom’s parents have been the only grandparents I’ve really had and have become more like second parents for us. Being the youngest makes it harder because he’ll forget me before everyone else. He lives in Puerto Rico.”

She doesn’t like her father’s side of the family because they are “very rude and not very nice to me”

Barbara: Istanbul

I was in Istanbul for a wedding for my friend Mehmet Kalyoncu. He is from Istanbul. We met four years ago when we were at St Hugh’s summer school at Oxford University and became Pen Pals and talked about life and had a lot in common. I hadn’t seen him in three years. We had just been Skyping and he was like, hey, are you coming to my wedding? Which is a really big honor and I don’t take that lightly.

So I headed on over there for five days. Saw the city by myself for the most part and with his sister. We’ve actually become better friends than he and I were so it’s opened up a plethora of other people I could meet.

It was the last day and we went for a night on the town. My flight was at 6 a.m. and I was like, why am I going to go to bed. I can do that on the plane. I ended up spending a lot of time with his sister, Sena and her husband Selim while I was there. We went to a hookah cafe, takism square, and then a little food cart to try this delectable burger featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”. It was awesomely delicious!

And we were all just hanging out together and it was that moment where you’re lost. You’re just nowhere in particular and everywhere at the same time. The brevity of life at that moment of the fact that I had met people I really connected with on a soulful level but wasn’t going to see again was something that should have been sad. Instead, I was okay with the indifference of the universe like it’s going to be okay.

But I have that moment here. Have you been to the square at 3 a.m.? It’s the best time because everything is quiet since they drunk people aren’t out. I think these moments are the best, when you’re among friends, loving life, talking about food and music and there’s something magical about that.

Back: Barbara, Sena, Selim; Front: Mehmet and his wife, (Photo Courtesy of Barbara)

Barbara and Ana: Immigrants

Both are first generation Americans and feel that part of their bond comes from shared experiences. Barbara is also fluent in Spanish, her parents Maria and Manuel Castro emigrated from Mexico.

“I study business and I always knew I would study business. Everyone in my family started college studying business and I’m the only one who stuck through with it, but I made it logical to where like, I eventually want to own a bakery,” Ana says.

“My dad always said he came over here with five dollars. He worked at Braum’s, as a carpenter, picked corn, everything. For him it’s all a reflection. The immigrant’s daughter always has such a hard thing that they have to do. If I’m like, I’m going to go to Europe then my parents think I’m going against the plan. He’ll be like, I came over here to give you this great thing and you don’t even want to live here or be lawyer?” Barbara says.

“I just realized why I get along with you so well. They think it’s easier for us when no, it’s just as hard.”

“They buy the American dream more than anyone. My parents are more patriotic than I am. But if they say something and I try to explain that it’s not actually like that get really…” Barbara shakes her head and both hands to finish the thought.

“You can’t explain it to them. They’ll go against you,” Ana says.

I spot Gloria and Gladys and make my way to them.

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Jay T. Wampler

Jay T. Wampler grabs a few drinks down at City Tavern across for Third Rail Lofts where he lives, a couple blocks down from the Bank of America Plaza tower, with a T-shirt tucked into blue jeans. He wants to be comfortable and enjoy himself after a long day at Bank of America Plaza where he is the managing director of Bank of America’s Global Corporate and Investment Banking Special Assets Group for the Americas.

Though he’s been drinking, he keeps perfect posture and clear words as he talks of his love for his job. He’s never wanted another job.

“I love the ability to take companies that are in financial distress and mend them back to health. When you do that you create a customer for life,” Jay says slowly, pausing after each word in the second sentence to prove the importance of each word. The only thing that bothers him are all the financial regulations on banks right.

“It’s out of control,” Jay says. “I deal with it day by day and do what I got to do.”

Jay has been working in restructuring since 1988. He started out in the largest Bank of America group working with multinational companies; but about a year and a half into his career, he was asked if he wanted to go to the work out group.

“I was 24, 25 years old and jumped at the opportunity to have my own portfolio,” Jays says as he looks over to the green lights pausing for moment. “If I had gone the other direction, I would have been a bagman for a senior vice president basically just doing his grunt work for him.”

At Bank of America, Jay has had great opportunities for travel. He loves to take his wife, a retired stay-at-home mom, whenever he goes.

“I tag along two or three extra days and take her with me and we have the most incredible time,” Jay says with a smile. Her favorite place is probably Key West, Napa Valley or New York City. He doesn’t know his.

Unlike many north Texas residents who live in the burbs but work in Corporate America, Jay loves the last two years he has spent living downtown. He loves that everything is within walking distance from his loft that he shares with his wife and doesn’t have to drive anywhere.

Jay and his wife moved downtown when his two boys left the house. His older son is working for an executive recruiting firm and his younger son is a senior at OSU completing his bachelor’s in business administration before moving on into an MBA like his father.

Jay likes to treat people the way he wants to be treated. He’s a trusting man and treats his subordinates like he treats his sons, he’s there to guide them and lead them but holds them accountable for their actions. He’s a loyal boss and friend, who always has the backs of his coworkers and makes sure not to micromanage.

“I let them do their thing and I trust them and they know I trust them,” Jay says. “I have a great relationship with everyone at my job.”

Denton, Fort Worth, Homeless, Teacher, Nanny, Travel, Hitchhiking, Artist

Transcription of an Interview: Allison Lamb

Allison gave a fantastic interview at Jupiter House in Denton and basically talked straight through without my having to ask many questions. After transcribing the recording, I omitted my questions and extra details that interrupted flow and comprehension. 

I’m just kind of thinking and listening to a book called Hyperion. It’s a science fiction book about, it’s hard to say, it has a lot of different stories in it. It’s just like a setup and character development for the next book really. I like science fiction a lot. It’s my primary genre and utopian novels. I really liked Spin and Brave New World.

I used to be a student but didn’t graduate. I am a nanny for a family, so I clean their house and watch their kid and I am a substitute teacher.

First, I was studying art and got a bad taste in my mouth at UNT because it’s competitive and I’m not competitive and then I moved to TWU for nutrition and dietetics. Then, I had like a bunch of crap happen in a semester and I had to put school on the back burner and my grades fell. I have to have As or nothing. I had Ds. I was like, I’m not ready for this and quit for a while but I’ll probably go back some day.

I still do art and always will. I really like throwing ceramics, its really fun and I like watercolor painting. I like making stuff for people. I have a stockpile of art supplies already because I would ask my family for them at Christmas, like give me some paint. And they’d be like here, have some paint and shut up already. Anything else, my nanny job can kind of pay for.

But yeah, my jobs do well. I live below my means. I don’t have a car or anything. I share a one-bedroom house with my roommate so rent is really not high.

I don’t know what I’d go back to school for, but if I decided to go back to school for money, I’d probably go back to school for a STEM field. You get good scholarships in STEM fields. If I decided to go back to school for something I love, it would probably be for ceramics. I would probably be like a teacher. Sometimes I like substitute teaching. Sometimes it’s really stressful because the kids are bratty or whatever.

But sometimes it’s really rewarding too.

One day, I was substituting for a special education class and I was trying to teach this 8-year-old how to subtract. I sat there with him and explained it to him and explained it to him and he got it and I was like I was able to teach that kid how to subtract and it was a really awesome moment for me. The little girl I nanny for is great, so sweet. I’ve nannied for other kids before that weren’t but they had some behavioral problems that weren’t their fault really. It wasn’t like autism, but close. This girl, she’s awesome like she paints with me and is really chill and awesome.

I travel every summer. Well, I started it last summer, but I went hitchhiking from here to northern California. When I was in New Mexico, I was sitting on a porch, I was like couch surfing and the people I met were really cool and we were in Ruidoso at night, sitting on a porch, playing music, and this bear walks down the street. It jumps into a dumpster at the end of the block and is like 30 feet from us rummaging through the garbage.

He looks up at us and then goes back to rummaging and it was really cool because I could tell it didn’t cross anybody’s mind to call animal control because the bear was like doing his own thing. Ruidoso is really encroaching upon the animals, so leave the animals be and they won’t mess with you unless you mess with them.

It was also really cool because it was the first time I saw a bear in real life. I wasn’t scared.

Well, I was at first because I had my back to it and the woman who was sitting next to me saw it and was like bear! So I turned around and saw that it was just minding it’s own business. I went from loh god we’re going to get mauled, to wow this is beautiful.

I think I’m afraid of dying and not getting to know the secrets of the universe after I die. I hope that after I die, no matter how it happens, I’m given the gift of knowledge of how the universe works and why, like the meaning. But if I didn’t get that I’d be really disappointed.

My life goal is to be happy and look back on my life and be like, that wasn’t a waste of time. Don’t let societal constructions of norm hinder you from being free.

I was homeless last year for six months. At one point, I broke up with my boyfriend of like three years and I loved and I got really depressed and I moved in with this guy.

He was older.

He was like this ex-‘Nam vet freaking crazy psycho posttraumatic stress disorder like really bad and I had a job at Ace hardware down by Kroger and I hated it. I was like abusing myself because I missed my boyfriend and was just really hating my life and was like I really need to get away from this guy.

He was like trying to getting me to marry him and stuff and treating me like getting all mad and possessive if I didn’t come home after work. I was like dude, I’m 20 years old, you need to back off you old man. But he like proposed it like you can live with me you don’t need to pay rent, no big deal, I like you. I thought it would be okay but it turned really creepy really fast and I tried to move out and quit my job and was thinking I had another job lined up but that didn’t work so I didn’t have a job and had some money saved up.

I met a guy right over there, where the last little building before crossing the street, and he was playing guitar. I had my drum out because there is a drum circle that goes on over there on Saturday nights and they had closed up early and I heard him playing and I came over there and was playing with him and he was like travelling. He’s from like a place in south Texas and was travelling, and he didn’t have any money. He got his money from playing music and I was totally taken aback from that.

I was like, this is awesome. I’m going to do this.

Plus, I already didn’t have a job. I wanted to get away from my roommate, so that’s what I did.

I was like, fuck all of y’all, I’m done and just hung out with him. Me and him and a saxophone player we met started a little band and we played every single night on Fry Street and made like $70 a night and it was so much fun. It was so awesome. Then I was like, I really want to travel. I need to get out of Denton for a while since I lived here since I was 12.

That’s when I decided I wanted to go travelling and I met another guy who seemed like a pretty good travel companion and we went and just started hitchhiking. I went from Denton to Fort Worth to Roswell, New Mexico. We got a ride from Fort Worth to Roswell and stayed in Roswell for a while and it got depressing.

Then we hitchhiked west to Ruidoso, which is an awesome town. It was like probably June of last year and then we bought a train ticket from Albuquerque to LA. We were in Albuquerque for just a few days and went to LA for a few days.

I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil, to like Carnaval. It just seems so awesome to me. We had to spend the night at a train station in LA one night. That was a nightmare but I met this girl who gave me a Brazilian cigarette. She was like, I’m from Brazil and just decided that I wanted to explore California one day and saved up my money to go. I was like, hey that’s what I’m doing. She was like, well cool, if you ever want to come to Brazil, here’s my number. Just call me and you can stay with me. So Portuguese is on my list of languages to learn.

It’s really hard to be homeless in LA because they were like you can’t sleep on the beach you have to sleep on the sidewalk or buy a hotel. We were there during the tourist season and didn’t think about that when we got there so there were no hotels and I didn’t really want to sleep on the sidewalk so we ended up dropping $200 on a hotel room for a night. It was a nice hotel but I was like, I can’t do this.

So then we caught a bus to San Francisco and went north with some people from San Francisco into the Redwoods and camped in the Redwoods for a while. That was really, really awesome.

Then we went back to the LA area to long beach because there was a guy form couch surfing. He seemed really, really cool. So we went back there to hang with him for a few days and by then I was really homesick and ready to get back.

We went to Oklahoma because I have some family there, lived with my dad for a month, and worked where my dad works. It’s like a juice packing factory called Whitlock and the pay pretty well, you can get tons of overtime. I made enough money to move back to Denton and establish myself again.

So then this summer, the guy I met in Ruidoso, his name is Mustang Jack, we’re going to go to Europe together to backpack and do the homeless thing over there for a while. It’s more accepted over there I think to go walking and backpacking and they have a better bus system. I’m also trying to learn German, a little bit of French, just some common languages. I feel like if I can just learn a little bit, I’ll be more accepted.

I don’t really like hitchhiking because I hate asking people for stuff and I don’t really like that about playing music on the street because I don’t like bumming money. I’m not the kind of person that will hold up a sign on the side of the street that’s like, give me money. Though sometimes I got so hungry I felt like that’s what I just had to do.

Dry Heeves

Dry Heeves, a Lubbock band that labels themselves “dirt surf rock” plays at City Tavern in downtown Dallas. Dry Heeves got a promotion group in Los Angeles to send their CDs across the country to college radio stations. Ryan Ulm, the bassist, hopes that something picks up soon.

Dry Heeves were lucky to play at City Tavern about three months ago after Arpi visited with his parents and networked with one of the bartenders. The performance was spectacular and they were invited back on their way to Mardi Gras to play. Mardi Gras will be the furthest they’ve had to travel for a show.

“I’d say getting out of Lubbock is the hardest thing we struggle with as a band,” Ryan slurs. “It’s a bubble in the middle of nowhere where it’s five hours to any of the nearest big cities”

Arpi Grann from Arlington plays guitar. He’s the only one band member that’s not an original and has been with the band for nearly three years. The other band members are from Post, Texas and met Arpi after moving the band to nearby Lubbock.

It’s hard for struggling bands to travel and go on the road to play big shows. The biggest show they’ve have played is Choppa Fest in Lubbock. It is not actually a festival but a tribute for a friend of the band who passed away. Local artists got together and had a benefit concert where nearly 400 people attended.

“It was more of a community thing,” Arpi said as Ryan nods his head more in reverence than from the alcohol swimming in his stomach to calm his nerves.

Arpi work at Texas Tech painting and doing simple maintenance but Ryan does not have a job right now. Ryan tried music classes at Tech but it never really took. Singer and guitarist Dylan Davis and drummer Anthony Merrell also have jobs to play the bills- but the band sustains itself for the road and promotion.

Arpi and Ryan hope they can start playing more shows. It’s the most fun they could ever have and want to be able to travel, partying with people from all over the world, while they do it. Getting people to go out and have fun with them is a struggle worth fighting for a band that had a blast choosing their name by putting together gross words on a white board. When they’re not performing, Dry Heeves find pleasure by going hard and practicing.

“I guess our communicating with other people and between ourselves and get on the same page is the hardest thing we’ve had to overcome,” Arpi says as the two walk away to begin their show.

The band has been called an angry Beach Boys and have been together almost six years.

Corporate trainer, downtown dallas, Marriott hotels, Washington D.C., travel, business

Scott Thurston

Scott Thurston sits wolfing down a grilled sandwich at Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on a cold Wednesday in February. He’s never eaten at one of the chain’s restaurants before but seems to be enjoying his sandwich and the break from walking around in the cold.

Thurston, originally from Florida, has lived and worked in Washington D.C. for years and is here on business the next morning. Scott, a freelance corporate trainer, is in Dallas to visit a client. Companies hire him to come and do events to get their employees to work better together.

“When a lot more companies downsize there is always a lot more opportunities to do more with us,” Scott says, “I’ve been here before but I wouldn’t say we have a lot of clients here. Most of our clients are in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.”

His first job out of college where he earned a degree in hospitality took him to D.C. where he worked at a Marriott hotel and through the different management positions, until he ended up in the corporate offices as a corporate trainer and found his niche for the training and development of people.

When Marriott downsized, Scott started working on his own and has been doing freelance for nearly ten years.

With anyone who freelances the lack of consistent pay is always a challenge but Scott couldn’t be happier and says the best thing about it is never having to work with the same people every day.

“The days of working for one company for 20 years are gone and people need to embrace change and find a passion,” Scott says between the last mouthfuls of his sandwich, “Once they find a passion they won’t be happier doing anything else in their life- wherever that passion takes them whether it be freelance or working for multiple companies.”

Scott throws away his trash and looks hesitant to leave. Usually the weather is his favorite thing about Dallas.

Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer, Dallas, Downtown Dallas, Rancher, Entrepreneur, City Tavern

Nathan Bellah

A man with shaggy hair, a beard and nice clothes sits alone at a table in City Tavern drinking his first cocktail of the night listening to the live music, The Southland Swing Band. But mostly, he’s listening to the conversations around him, wondering who he’ll meet tonight.

Nathan Bellah lives across the street in Third Rail Lofts. He’s an experienced downtown resident and previously lived in the Davis Building and the Mosaic. Buildings within walking distance of the bar.

A while back, he bought a house in East Dallas for a little while and just sold it. “It was just a hell of a deal man, so I just had to buy,” Nathan says.

Overnight, the housing market in East Dallas boomed, and he knew it was time to sell. The day after he put it on the market, it sold. “I was like, oh shit,” he said. “I don’t have anywhere to go. So I was like, I guess I’ll move back downtown.”

He’s lived downtown for about six months and considers City Tavern his Cheers. He’s met people from all over the country and the world, people in the city for a while on vacation and business trips and people on a two-hour layover who just needed a drink, people who work as janitors and starving artists to elite businessmen and popular musicians. To Nathan, City Tavern is the best place he can meet interesting people and that’s what he’s here to do.

Two young men, barely old enough to drink, walk away from the bar, each holding a beer they look too eager to drink. The band wraps up a song, and Nathan hears the two men mention digital marketing, so he takes the opportunity to strike.

Nathan is a jack of all trades, a human Swiss Army knife. Nathan has two companies. One company is a ranch here in Texas that raises and trains rodeo bulls.

After the initial icebreakers, they start to talk about themselves. The boys mention that they’re from the area and have had hard times finding jobs. They’re full of the dreams of inexperienced entrepreneurs.

“I grew up in Lubbock and I’ve tried to fight those roots for a very long time,” Nathan says. “But after a while, you realize that living in Texas you have to give in to working in either oil or agriculture.” It stemmed from there. We’re blessed. He and his friend, two young guys just like them, were doing well. “I asked my buddy, what do we do with some of this extra money we have. He said to me, ‘You know what? Let’s buy a bull.’”

They all laugh.

“You know, you’re dealing with the salt of the earth,” Nathan said. “The people, in the business have been very helpful, even though you’re competing against them.”

Nathan says that in the business, everybody knows everybody and it’s like a family.

“My buddy and I stick out like sore thumbs,” he says. “You know, he’s covered in tattoos and I wear like New Balances and have some tats too and when we show up, everyone is like ‘oh shit here they come,’ just excited for us to be there. It’s cool.”

Nathan considers himself an entrepreneur from the start. “I guess I’ve always had it in me,” he says. “Just like I’m sure you do too.”

The conversation shifts and the boys talk about themselves some more. They had an idea for a company they wanted to start when they were in school. They weren’t doing too well in their classes, and uninterested in continuing their education, jumped at some advice to pursue their dreams. The dreams failed, and they started to look for other jobs with little success.

Nathan says that like them, he sucked at college, but finished. He grew up in Lubbock and decided to go to Texas Tech for a year, but ended up transferring to the University of North Texas. After bouncing around a few majors, the Entrepreneur decided to double major in rhetorical studies and Spanish, instead of something like business administration.

“I ended up really liking the communications department and the next thing you know I am back in Spanish which I hadn’t taken since junior high, why not get a degree in it?”

Nathan says the coolest thing that probably ever happened was in his first three jobs out of college working for the man, he got laid off. Each one, laid off. One after another. He ended up going to work for The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. Nathan finally landed a job where he wasn’t laid off, but quit instead.

“I met a man who is now 63 working in digital technology with a resume you wouldn’t believe,” he says. “He has been my mentor to this day.”

The man had a small private company in 2005 and asked Nathan to jump on board randomly, so he left Bear Stearns.

“I left this job at corporate America at a company with roots so thick you wouldn’t think anyone could tear the tree down,” Nathan says.

It was the biggest gamble of his life and they still work together to this day. They have made good money together and helped a lot of companies out. It was a good role of the dice.

“I mean this guy headed up the YTK project for the US postal service so his level of knowledge in digital is extensive plus he’s a tinkerer, he’s a genius, let’s say that, he’s a genius,” Nathan says. “He’s got some strategies that he developed that are on the cutting edge of digital marketing. God, that’s so boring to even say, but yeah, we’re going to use him for some things.”

They all have another sip of their drinks and look at the stage as the band begins to play an old Duke Ellington dance hit, “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”

“I always say dance with the person that brought you and he’s just been a good person,” Nathan says, emphasized by a slight Texas drawl.

Nathan jumped ship at the right time since Bear Stearns shut down in the 2008 financial crisis and was sold to JPMorgan Chase.

“I kind of wish I would have been laid off. I would have had a severance package,” he tells the boys. One almost spits out their beer as they snort with laughter.

“You don’t have to be worried about what’s happening now,” Nathan says. You need to be worried about what’s going to happen.”

“How do we do that?” one asks Nathan as the other looks panicky.

“You go and learn, you know, you always learn,” Nathan says. Not the answer they were expecting. “You try to better yourself.”

“We don’t have any money,” they say to Nathan.

“If you can’t gamble on yourself, who can you gamble on? If you can’t gamble on what you love, what can you gamble on?” Nathan says.

Nathan goes on to discuss his most recent gamble, a job as the Chief Marketing Officer for a company he’s launching with his best friend soon. Menguin will be an “online tuxedo rental solution” for all the men in major metro areas that hate to go out to Men’s Warehouse or Joseph A. Bank.  Now you can now go online, build your tuxedo, rent it right there.

“We actually have a technology that will measure within an eighth of an inch using your computer camera,” Nathan said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

The boys show some enthusiasm, ask a few questions about the tech but their eyes sparkled with the hope of a job, from their new mentor. One, shaking, looks at the other who nods. His voice wavers as he asks Nathan for a job.

“That just tells me right there you don’t believe enough in yourself to even go and get higher education, like step outside, change the game, change the game, that’s it,” he says to the bewildered faces. “That’s all I could ever ask. I always say this, impress me. Impress me.”

The boys can tell the conversation is over when Nathan spots a documentary producer he met the week before and walks away.

Drunk Talk

A line forms for the restrooms in the back of City Tavern in downtown Dallas on a Friday night. A friendly discussion between strangers forms after a young man asks Emilia for her number, but she declines.  He walks away and the game between man and woman begins.

The Players

AJ is still in school at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and just turned 21. He’s here visiting his sister’s boyfriend Neal, who is 24 and more like a brother to him. Neal lives in Texas. The two came to City Tavern to watch the Impractical Jokers and are arguing that women should give their numbers out to strangers.

Coco is a short and pretty African American woman who is friends with Emilia. She said she works in finance. She’s been drinking, but seems relatively sober, arguing that women don’t have to give their numbers.

Zach is tall, with short black hair, styled. He’s 34-years-old Caucasian and has been in a committed relationship for the past three years.  He didn’t say what his profession is. His face is slightly flushed from the drinks, but he looks relaxed. He’s arguing that women should give out their numbers more.

Emilia, 24, is a student at Collin College and wants to study marine biochemistry and Spanish.  She’s a pretty girl from Comanche, Texas and moved to the big city when she was 11, but wants to travel. She loves Texas, but feels like she belongs on the beach somewhere warm and sunny. She loves the Gulf, but wants to move to prettier oceans. She’s a pretty optimistic and positive person and loves a good joke. She said she works for a catering company and loves it, but is getting frustrated with how the “higher end crowd” she serves treats her.

“That feeling of when people automatically think they’re better than you. It’s like, dude we’re all kind of people,” she said.” I’m happy to serve you, I’ll bring you your drinks all night and food but you don’t have to treat me like crap.”

The Game

“You are very pretty, can I have your number?” the man asked. She declines and he walks away.

AJ, standing in line with Neal, tells Emilia she’s hot and enters the restroom.

“He told me I was hot, that was nice,” Emilia said. “I just got off work, usually when I get off work I have my hair all back like this.”

A few more words are spoken, and as AJ exits the restroom, Neal lets Zach cut ahead of him in line to help his friend finish his conversation.

“I’ve worked in the service industry for a long time and I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with giving my number out,” she said, directing her words at AJ. “Like stalkers, you meet a person once and they seem all cool up front right? Well people can hide who they really are for a really long time or a not so long time.”

“And women can’t do that?” Zach said, as he walked out of the restroom where he overheard the conversation, wiping his wet hands on his pants before pointing his index finger at Emilia. “Let me tell you something. Nowadays a phone number, that’s old school, it’s not Facebook stalking. It’s not looking at their Twitter, it’s basically being a genuine guy, being chivalrous saying ‘Hey, you know what? I’d like the opportunity to get to know you, and this is the only opportunity I have by asking for your phone number to set a date’.”

“If you don’t want to set a date with a phone number then maybe set a date by saying ‘Hey, I’ll meet you for a coffee at a certain time’,” AJ said, using the proverbial “you.”

“Life doesn’t work out and then we all die, but we all have to find some happiness on the way,” Zach said.

“It’s a lot more difficult to block yo’ ass on a cell phone,” Emilia said as Zach started to walk away.

Neal, up next for the restroom decided to rejoin the conversation, “I’ll go along with that other guy,” Neal said, stopping Zach in his tracks to turn around and listen. “I literally walked up to a girl, my soon to be fiancé and literally went the opposite route and was like listen, there’s a lot of guys here but I think you’re really pretty and if you want to go ahead and grab a meal sometime, I think you’re really nice and I think we’d get along.”

“That’s so sweat Neal,” Zach said with a smile and relaxed shoulders, trying to cut off Emilia who had something to say.

“Neal, you don’t give me creeper vibe,” she said loudly but sweetly, finally getting a word in edge-wise. “But the 34-year-old, maybe.”

“How do you know I haven’t been in a committed relationship for a number of years?” Zach said, his face no longer getting the color from the alcohol in his system. “I have a girlfriend for 3 years, but you’re judging me.”

“No I didn’t, I stereotyped you,” Emilia said, raising her voice while avoiding his gaze. She tried further to defend herself, as Zach tried to break back into the conversation.

“You know what, you shouldn’t give your number out, you know why?” he said, not waiting for a response. “Because you’ll never have a chance at success.”

He turned to walk away again.

“Whatever, guess what?” She asked, “I can take all the phone numbers I want.”

“But you’re not going to do anything about it,” Zach said.

“I’m not a scaredy cat kind of girl,” Emilia said looking to her friend Coco, who had just walked up to visit the restroom and check on her friend, for validation.

Coco, seeing that her friend is okay, walks into the restroom. “That’s right,” she smirked, pausing her participation as she continues to listen from inside.

AJ and Neal exchange words with each other. Neal gives a look Zach that says no more than “good luck.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” they said to Emilia as they walk away to finish their drinks.

“If a girl doesn’t give you her number after you’ve been chivalrous and given her your time, then walk away and let her fall on her own face,” Zach said, also leaving the conversation.

“Bullshit, the woman cannot,” Emilia said. “Not every freaking man shows chivalrous signs at the bar.”

“Usually they’re drunk,” Coco said, returning from the restroom.

“Sure, I’ll give you a fake number every day,” Coco said, grabbing her friends forearm “It’s not to be offensive, honestly. It’s just that sometimes you give off the wrong vibe and some guys are fucking pricks so you have to give them the wrong number.”

Segway, Tour Guide, Dallas Tour, Skating, longboard, Klyde Warren

Skater Stew, a Segway and the Open Road

His name is Stew and he’s a Segway tour guide, giving beautiful Segway tours all through the downtown area, and he loves it.

It’s the only job he has ever had where he looks forward to going to work in the morning. It is the only job he’ll pull himself out of bed early just to get there. Stew lives for his Segway tours and downhill longboarding, the reason he always has a helmet on.

When he’s not on Segway tours, he lives to make it to as many races in North Texas as he can. Not Segway races, downhill longboard races. Stew tries to skate all through the downtown area as much as he can.

“I always lose and end up crashing in the corner,” he said. “I’ll come through corners with about five other guys all battling for the same line.”

He’s got a love for the sport that radiates from his smile as he talks about the full contact at the starting and finish lines. It’s the most fun he could ever have.

Stew has been giving tours for about three months at Segway Nation. All the other jobs Stew has ever held have been awful. Stew found the job when he went on Craigslist. He was interviewed immediately and got the job because he was the only candidate who actually knew something about Dallas.

“I’m here so frequently skating and used to deliver in the area, so it was pretty much just went in and got the job and now I give tours,” he said.

His tours start over in the West End in between the Greyhound station and the Omni Hotel. Stew takes tourists and residents through the convention center, the arts district, on over to Dealey Plaza “where the assassination took place before heading back on over to HQ.”

In the three months he’s been giving tours, Stew has only had one kid break a wrist. Of course, he gets the occasional falls that happen around four times a day, but nobody has broken another bone or a Segway.

“I’ll put it this way, I have more trouble with adults on Segways than I do with the kids,” Stew said. “You get an adult on the Segway and they’re like a kid again.”

They just don’t pay attention and they just start having fun and go around object and catch the wheel on something and start rolling but usually it’s just a scrape on an elbow or something like that. Nothing too dramatic.

Stew and the other tour guide take falls on the Segway all the time. “We’re very over confident so before I know it, I’m trying to come around the corner looking all cool and I’ll run into something and get thrown off,” he said.

Of course, to counteract that, Stew stands up and starts laughing. He always makes sure to look around and start laughing before other people laugh at him.

“That is the main goal,” Stew said. It’s just like when he skates. “When you get thrown off your board in front of 50 people, you got to make sure you beat them to that laugh. It’s the only way to play it off, but it’s so much fun I enjoy it.”

As he watches for his two guests to finish their food in Klyde Warren Park, he fastens his helmet. It’s time for Stew to get back on the road.

Dallas, Homeless

Davey Drew

A photographer stands, swaying, on the corner of Ervay and Elm with nothing in his hands but a paper CVS photo folder. The folder holds two beautiful pictures of slot canyons he tries to sell to a man walking past. He took them on his Cannon EOS. What others don’t know is that in the paper folder is another white envelope for extra protection of his best shot, his pride and joy.

Davey Drew is homeless right now and rather enjoys it. He likes the freedom and has for the past 25 years.

“I can travel all over the country, you know, shoot this with a camera, do what other people can’t do,” he said with a smile barely be seen through his greying beard. “Of course, I’m almost 60.”

The photographer has held other jobs before, but it was “just this and that, like everyone else. Junk.”

To get from city to city, Davey Drew takes greyhounds and hitches rides on freight trains.

“Anything that moves that’s going my way and that I can get in or get on. I don’t much think about where I’m going to go,” Davey Drew said. “I just, you know. I’ve already been there and somehow I liked it so much I ended up there again.”

He used to hitchhike but doesn’t anymore. You see, he’s crippled now.

“I fell very seriously, but it wasn’t on one of my photoshoots,” Davey Drew said. “I was just screwing around.”

Davey Drew peddles his photos across the country but is going to sell them on eBay soon. The best place he’s been is Arizona. Northern Arizona, to be precise, an area where he probably took the photos he’s now selling to the highest bidder.

“I lived in Arizona before I was homeless and I think I’m going to go there again next,” Davey Drew said. The last time Davey Drew was here was over 10 years ago. Even though he just arrived three or four days ago, he doesn’t know how long he’ll be in town, but he’s thinks he’ll be leaving soon.

It’s much warmer there.

“I aint worth a shit, but I like my life a lot and this is something to do.”