Marcus “The Trumpet Man” was a delight to talk to. He taught himself how to make the sound of a trumpet with just his lips and vocal chord. And he did sound like a real trumpet too! Before I saw him, as I was coming around the corner on the sidewalk, I thought someone was playing a trumpet nearby. He said he was inspired by the movie Beverly Hills Cop, where there was a character who could make all sorts of sounds with just his lips. He dreams of getting into the entertainment business. Currently he entertains passersby on the street with his original music. He uses a styrofoam cup to magnify the sound, which I thought was rather resourceful. He appreciated how I’d stopped by to talk to him, because, he said, most people would walk in a wide circle around him. In particular, Asians would openly show their fear of him. He said he hasn’t been able to hold on to his jobs because he suffers from chronic depression and hasn’t been able to afford the treatment. He’s been married for 10 years, but his wife has filed divorce after she’s “found someone else”. He’s desperate to find a place to live because his soon-to-be-former wife said he needs to move out in a month. All he really hopes for is to earn enough as an entertainer to afford his own place to live and buy his own food.
Looking back, Jack Fisher thanks God that he got arrested when he tried to sell some drugs to an undercover cop about 3 years ago, because it’s the wake-up call he needed to start turning his life around. He’s been clean since, and has learned healthier ways to cope so that he no longer has a desire to use drugs. He was sentenced to 28 months in jail and just finished serving his time 4 months ago. He has been walking the streets of Nashville, looking for a job everyday. He was living at the halfway house, but got kicked out when he could no longer pay the $125/week to stay there. He said it’s been hard because people are repulsed by his arrest record, or the businesses are simply not hiring any new workers. Another reason he’s having difficulty getting a job is also his lack of a high school diploma. He wants to get a GED, but lacks the $600 it costs to go through the program and take the test.
He has an estranged 20-year-old son, with whom he’s trying to reconcile. But like all of his friends and family, his son has lost faith in him. He said he understands that, because he has lied to them, but he hopes that in time, he can earn their trust back. He’s been getting food at the Presbyterian church that you can see behind him in the photo. At night, if the weather is good, he would sleep on the lawn of another church down the street that allows the homeless to sleep on their property. (The city has been arresting people for sleeping in public places.) When the weather is bad, he would go to sleep at the shelter for the homeless, but he said he prefers not to go there, because he wants to stay clean, and doesn’t like that there are people still using drugs there. When I asked if he needs anything, he said he’s thankful for the help that the church and other folks have given him, so there’s no lack there. He only wishes for a chance to prove himself as a good worker, to earn his own money and get his own place to live.