Finally, Caplan got sick of it and pulled away. He got help at shelters, got a diagnosis for his extreme anxiety and other symptoms (bipolar disorder), and three years ago, he finally got his own place. But he wasn't ready to get a job. He'd done restaurant work before, but he couldn't handle the stress. "I just gave up a lot," Caplan says. Now he's worked at Cafe 54 for six months. He's done dishwashing and prep work, but his favorite is the grill. He's learned how to grip a knife the right way and cut vegetables. "More importantly," he says, "I've learned about stress."
Caplan's pretty proud of himself. He'd like to be an analyst for the CIA someday. Or maybe go into computers."I thought my mom dying was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," he says. "But it wasn't. It was taking care of myself."