After chatting for several minutes about why he's in San Diego and what he plans to do here, Douglas, a former magazine editor, says 'off the record' and explains why his life got off-track.
'That's an easy trap to fall into,' a reporter tells him when he finishes his story. Douglas replies, 'Pitfall is a better word; you don't get yourself into a trap.'
Douglas is 49, an electrical engineer by training who 'blew in from Tennessee' six weeks ago. He's returned to the city where he lived from 1968 until 1993 with the hope of finding a job in electronics and reconnecting with his wife, who, he said, is living here with relatives. The couple has a daughter and four grandkids back in Tennessee.
Save for some dirt on his blue, button-down collared shirt and gray slacks (and the fact that he was asking for spare change for bus fare), Douglas, with his beard and baseball cap and folded glasses in his shirt pocket, could pass for a laid-back college professor. Indeed, he says he's written a book and grins as he rattles off its 10-digit ISBN number (which matches up to Digital Signal Processing Technology: Essentials of the Communications Revolution, ranked No. 58,523 by Amazon).
Until recently, he edited a bi-monthly technical magazine--he declined to give the name--but left because it was 'time for new blood.' As it is with small publications, his salary was paltry, even for Tennessee. He arrived in San Diego with no place to live and no money and hasn't had luck getting a shelter bed. But he's trying to get into a recovery program at the San Diego Rescue Mission--that's the first step before searching for a job and mending his marriage.
'I need the discipline and the order,' he said. 'Food and shelter will be nice, too. That's where I'll be on Monday morning.'