Have You Ever Been Homeless? I Have.

Herbie J Pilato
4 min readDec 5, 2019

And I’ve Been Desperately Hungry, Too

Decades ago, in between various moves, back and forth, between Los Angeles and my hometown of Rochester, New York, I was homeless for three days and desperately hungry on several occasions.

Although “occasion” is not really the appropriate word to describe either of those situations because, as you may imagine or maybe even know first-hand, being homeless and/or desperately hungry are not uplifting experiences.

For starters, let’s start with the “hungry” part.

In the 1980s, I doubled as a front-desk/waiter of an upscale private club in L.A., where membership was approximately $10,000 per month, plus various daily expenses, many of which involved three gourmet meals per day.

I loved the job, really. I was fascinated by the constant interaction with the extremely wealthy, many of whom were gracious and kind, while others, well, not so much.

Two instances stick out in my mind:

One year, at a Christmas party I was worked as a waiter, a young colleague of mine, a waiter-in-training, as it were, accidentally spilled an entire tray of several lobster dinners all over the bright red dress of a female partier that evening.

Besides the irony of watching a bunch of red lobsters being sprayed over the same-colored dress of that poor rich woman, I was more fascinated with the absolutely look of shock and horror and disgruntled demeanor of that unfortunate club member.

She glared so intensely at that so-very-apologetic waiter-in-training, as ready to lunge at him.

Fortunately, instead, she retreated to the ladies' room with a fellow patron, who helped her through the ordeal.

It was not a good experience for anyone, and I’m not sure if that new potential waiter was ever fired (I hope he wasn’t). But the woman certainly never made him feel better about the situation. I mean, come on — it was Christmas. He was a young dude struggling through that time in his life to make ends meet, and she was a prosperous established high-roller who struggled to rid her dress from an alternate form of red meat for one night.

Herbie J Pilato

Herbie J Pilato is a writer, producer, and TV personality whose books about life and pop culture include THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS.