I Am Ashamed

8 May

So there I was, at the Farmers’ Market last week, setting up my tent, and the market manager walked by.  I asked her who was playing music for the market that day, and she told me some homeless guy who plays the cello.  She had met him downtown and invited him to play for us.

My first reaction was OH MY GOD!  What in the hell is she thinking????

I am ashamed of myself!

The guy showed up fifteen minutes early, lugging his backpack, which must have weighed seventy-five pounds at least, all his worldly possessions in it, and carrying a cello in his free hand.  I went over, introduced myself, and showed him where to set up.

Fifteen minutes later he began playing music from the angels.

For two hours he played classical music, and to say he played beautifully would be a disservice to him.  It was the first time in over a year at that market that I saw people stop what they were doing and just  listen to the music, and after each song he received heartfelt applause.

I am ashamed of myself!

I made an assumption, and I admit that to you all.  I assumed since he was homeless he couldn’t possibly be any good, and that assumption made a complete ass out of me.

I’m not sure what the hell I was thinking.  I’ve written countless articles about the plight of the homeless, how that social ill affects people in all walks of life, but at that one moment, in that one situation, I tossed aside all of my righteousness and embarrassed myself.

Mea culpa!

I am a writer.  I consider it my job to reflect real life, to tell stories which cause reflection, and to be as honest as I possibly can be.  And that’s what I’m doing now, at this moment, to all of you.

Telling it like it is!


I have a name for you: Dollie Mae Priest!  I’ll explain the significance of that woman next week…anyone care to guess beforehand?

No talent there . . . or is there?


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

29 Responses to “I Am Ashamed”

  1. Janine Huldie May 8, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

    Bill, as soon as I saw the title you had me intrigued totally. I love how you admitted your “guilt” here. I am not too proud to say, I might have thought the same thing myself. But good lesson for us all. As my own grandmother used to say all the time here, “You can’t judge a book by its cover!” Thanks for sharing and Happy Tuesday now 🙂

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 1:47 pm #

      Thanks for understanding, Janine! That’s a mistake I won’t make again.

  2. Greg Boudonck May 8, 2018 at 1:56 pm #

    I’ve done similar judgments I regretted Bill. But many would not be willing to admit. Hats off to you.

    As for Dollie Priest, I found she died in 1968 and was married to Worley who died in 1979. Their son Randy died in a car accident in 1976. I would say you may have known Randy? I await to hear more.

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 2:17 pm #

      Nice research, Greg….that’s the right lady…more later, and thank you!

  3. Mike May 8, 2018 at 2:08 pm #

    Good morning Bill – Artistry With Words is your best forum. Oh, wait, I may not be a reader of all your forums. Here you take a small kernel and grow it into a lesson. (In today’s issue anyway.)

    Didn’t Dollie Mae Priest live over on Mullberry Street. There were always coming and goings over on Mulberry St.

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm #

      You’ll have to wait and see, Mike, but she could be the Mulberry St. Priest. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, buddy!

  4. Sally Gulbrandsen May 8, 2018 at 2:40 pm #

    You are human and we all err on the wrong side at times but you are also a writer and this is why this piece of writing is so powerful. I know I won’t forget it. Thank you Billy.

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 2:41 pm #

      Thank you Sally! I am human….mistakes will be made…I just have to be all right with that fact.

  5. Shauna L Bowling May 8, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

    Bill, I know you’ve mentioned that name before, perhaps in an HP article. That’s as far as my memory is going on this one. Guess I’ll have to wait until next week to connect the dots.

    As for the assumption you made, we’re all human and flawed.

    Have you ever heard of Doug Seegers? He was once homeless, lived under a bridge in Nashville, and played guitar and sang to whomever would listen. He was given a shot at a studio gig and now has quite the following. Needless to say, he’s no longer homeless. Google him when you have some time. His story is inspiring and his music is awesome (if you like country).

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 4:31 pm #

      I think I have heard of him, Sha, or I saw a youtube video about him…great story. Thanks for reminding me of him.

  6. Manatita May 8, 2018 at 5:20 pm #

    I lnow people who are far better than some professionals. Yet they never make it to the world’s stage. Who knows the ways of the Lord?
    A sincere and contrite piece. Always good for the soul. Praise be!

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 9:25 pm #

      Thank you Manatita! Blessings to you always!

  7. Lawrence Hebb May 8, 2018 at 5:49 pm #

    Actually living what we say can be hard, and we’ve all done what you talk about before. One question did you guys invite him back?
    I remember growing up, we used to have homeless guys working for dad turning up every morning, most would (today) be considered to be suffering from PTS.
    One guy I found out was the winner of the Military Cross at Monte Cassino…Never judge a book by its cover!
    Great post, and thank you for being honest

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 9:26 pm #

      Lawrence yes, he is playing again tomorrow. Thanks for your gentle wisdom!

  8. carol stanley May 8, 2018 at 7:04 pm #

    I think we all have been there and done that. It is always about your honesty Bill that never waivers….A great story and thanks for sharing.

    • Billybuc May 8, 2018 at 9:26 pm #

      Lesson learned, Carol…hopefully! Thank you for your kind words.

  9. Sageleaf May 9, 2018 at 1:07 am #

    Well, Big Bro, you are very human. As am I. But how cool that that guy was able to come and play so beautifully. I suppose we make judgements based on prior experiences – what would be the chances of someone just coming up off the street (regardless of appearances) who could play show-stealing music? We use prior instances and data we’ve personally collected to make conjectures about future events. But that’s also what sets us humans apart. We can get into a new mindset, approach a situation from a non-judgemental point of view (while learning from previous ones) and look at others with a little love and compassion. 🙂 But you know, I’m not perfect; none of us is. I was at the store the other day and saw a young couple, replete with tattoos, with a newborn and a kiddo that looked to be 1.5 or 2 years old. I took one look and…caught myself. Before I had the thought about whatever it is I might have thought. I decided to just smile at the older kiddo, making funny faces to make him laugh as his adults (were they his parents? Hehe…trying not to make assumptions, but it isn’t always easy) finished checking out. And I smiled as I enjoyed the big smile of the little guy. Made my day, actually. Hehe. But dang. It’s human nature to assume. Catching ourselves and admitting when we do it? That takes a big heart, a humble person, and someone that I know I’d like to be friends with. 🙂

  10. Michael Milec May 9, 2018 at 1:46 am #

    Supposedly, it was a right moment / occasion meeting a homeless person… You my friend have revealed a significant del of virtue hidden in each of us, namely how by self examination we mature into compassionate souls, understanding the others and loving them as they are.

  11. 1authorcygnetbrown May 9, 2018 at 2:12 am #

    It is sad that our first impressions often show us how prejudice we really are. Often, a situation like you describe wakes us up to our short comings. Rather than putting ourselves down, we need to remind ourselves that we are human, we make mistakes, and making mistakes is OKAY as long as we learn from them.

  12. suziehq May 9, 2018 at 6:32 am #

    Don’t beat yourself up Bill if we are all truthful we have done similar. it’s your ability to hold your hands up and relay your experience that matters and you have done that in your powerful writing. Hope you had a good days trading and have a great week! Ciao!

  13. Graham Lee. May 9, 2018 at 8:09 am #

    Well said Bill.

  14. Nikki Khan May 9, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

    Bill your title is eye catching and don’t worry much as being human sometimes we just do the opposite as we say.This is truly down to our human beings nature.
    But good thing is you learnt a great lesson from this assumption.I normally love to listen such homeless people, they play music everyday at a bus stop very close to us.
    Sometimes I ask my children to put some pounds in their bowl, and at other times they dance as they sing.
    I must admit beautiful and classic music, you won’t even hear at the art gallery.
    I’m so moved by your admission of this guilt here, as being real is the most difficult task to do.
    Well done mate!
    Bless you and your family!

  15. Billybuc May 10, 2018 at 1:09 am #

    I am so far behind in correspondence…thank you all!

  16. phoenix2327 May 11, 2018 at 4:56 pm #

    I gotta tell you, Bill, I’m surprised at you. But don’t feel bad. All of us, myself included, have been guilty of making snap judgments and then looking foolish later. So you made a mistake, big deal. Mistakes are there to learn from, not wallow in. On a positive note, there may be a good story in this.

    Have a great day, Bill.

    • Billybuc May 11, 2018 at 4:59 pm #

      Hell, Zulma, I’m surprised at myself, so there you go. You can bet this black mark will appear in a story or book.

      Wishing you a great weekend!

  17. Andrea Stephenson May 13, 2018 at 6:57 pm #

    Sometimes it’s easier for our unconscious prejudices to come out in reality than when we think about things in the abstract. It’s great that you had the opportunity to do that and to be honest about what you learned.

    • Billybuc May 14, 2018 at 2:28 pm #

      Thank you Andrea! I know you are correct, but I’m having a hard time giving myself a break on this one.

  18. Sarah Potter Writes May 17, 2018 at 2:57 pm #

    It’s so easy to stereotype and judge by outward appearances. I admire your honesty and humbleness, my dear friend, in sharing your experience with the world! Someone was telling me how she sat next to a guy at a concert and judged him negatively as he looked like a punk. In fact, he ended up becoming a very famous classical musician (I won’t mention names here). It happens. I told her your story. I do hope some rich benefactor hears your cellist and helps rescue him from destitution.

    • Billybuc May 17, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

      That’s what you get with me, Sarah, warts and all. I’m too old to play games and lie about who I am. I made a mistake and I own up to it. Thank you for your understanding and kindness.

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