Robert Griffo (RG): I worked on Wall Street for 11 years, for an investment firm, and I lived a very high lifestyle. I was making a lot of money. I used to walk over homeless people at Grand Central Station when they were begging for money and I’d say ‘You need to get a job.’ But I lost myself on Wall Street. October 19th 1987, the market crashed and I was so worried I was going to get laid off. Week to week I would just watch colleagues near me just be escorted out of the buildings, and I quickly fell apart. I would be awake for days, because I was using cocaine and heroin. And I ended up not only losing my job, but I lost my children, my beautiful wife, and I ended up in the streets. I was a mess.
I went to a bridge, it’s called the 207th street bridge, in Upper Manhattan, trying to get the courage – at the time, I called it ‘courage’ — to jump. And one time, I stood there at the rail for about 30 minutes, trying to convince myself that this was the right thing to do. My family would be better off with me gone, and I just said ‘let’s just get this over with.’ Obviously, I didn’t jump. There was always some hope that maybe I could get out of this. And finally, five men from an AA meeting got me out of a box that I was living in in the streets and they said ‘we’re gonna get you some help, man. The bums in the street came in and told us about you. They said there’s a kid on the street, can you please help him, he doesn’t belong there.’ And they came and got me.
When I started my life over, I got an apartment. I had a metal chair that was my couch. I had an upside down box from a TV set that was my coffee table. I had a fifteen dollar voucher from the Salvation Army to buy pots and pans and forks. And I started my life over. I’ve lost an awful lot. But I tell a lot of people that today I’m rich and some day I’ll have money again. As far as I’m concerned, I won the lottery: I got my life back.