Richard Brightman, a tall, itinerant carpenter distinguished by his mustache and oak-leaf-cluster cap, has spent much of his 45 years on the move, and he does not plan to stop.
Smiling at many of his memories, he traced his route through dozens of jobs, three marriages, three children and countless bus and plane trips that brought him, somewhat annoyed at a bit of bad luck, to the Depot.
"I really don't like handouts any more than I have to," he said, but he had left his tools with his estranged wife in Ocala, Fla. He said he expected to find a menial job soon, like the junkyard and dishwashing work he had recently left in Tucson.
Life on the road can be lonely, he said, but he likes the freedom. "If I decide, like now, I can go up to San Francisco, go up, pack my things up and hit the road."
He was born in Trenton, N.J., and, at age 5, spent nine months in a county home when his parents divorced. He dropped out of high school in his junior year and enlisted in the Air Force at 17. He was discharged after 18 months when he went AWOL to see a woman: "Discipline -- that was one of my biggest problems, having to be a certain place at a certain time."
But he said he has always supported himself and been jailed only once, a weekend sentence for drunken driving in Oklahoma.
He is an avid sightseer, with eclectic tastes. He rode the bus to Los Angeles in mid-January on his way to see the headquarters of the Worldwide Church of God, a Pasadena-based sect to which his third wife had belonged. The bus stopped in downtown Los Angeles, so he walked the streets for two days, looking around, and then walked the 10 miles to Pasadena.
He had $3 when he arrived, but other people on the street told him about the Depot. Arriving at a new town with no money "doesn't bother me," he said. "But I haven't really had this much of a problem getting established . . . . I'm a little disgusted right now."