My Day Of BumsSubmitted by Quartermain at 2012-06-04 15:13:06 EDT
Rating: 1.6 on 10 ratings (17 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
Last Sunday I woke up earlier than is my usual wont. Being up so early, and it being a nice day, I figured I'd go for an early morning walk and maybe get some breakfast at the end of it. And so I set my course for The Highland Grill, which is a restaurant in St. Paul that I favor and which is an appreciable yet not insurmountable distance from my house.
As I usually do when I walk somewhere, I took the opportunity to smoke a cigar which, admittedly, zeroes out the health benefits of walking places. I get down near to the restaurant and the end of my cigar and I toss the butt into the sewer grate in preparation to entering the restaurant. All of a sudden I hear a voice saying "Hey, you shouldn't do that." I look around and there is this girl sitting there on the sidewalk begging for spare change and kind of eyeballing me.
"Shouldn't do what?" I say.
"You shouldn't throw tobacco into the sewer", she says. "It'll run into the Mississippi and poison the fish, or get into the ground water."
"Yeah, you should pay attention to those things."
"Well, tell me this, if you're so smart, how come you're begging for change on the street corners?"
She stands up "Hey, F*&@ you, man." she says. She's maybe five feet tall at the most and if she weighs a hundred pounds it's because she's soaking wet and has a brick in her pocket, but she still looks like she's about a hair away from handing out ass-whuppins.
"Eh, you're kinda young for me." I say. "I'll buy you breakfast, though, if you're hungry." She's a little skittish, but she follows me into the restaurant and I stake her to breakfast. After talking to her a bit, a to-go container with another meal in it finds it's way into her possession as well. As we're leaving the restaurant, I give her a card that has the phone number and address of a women's shelter that a friend of mine runs.
Later that day, I'm in a nearby part of the city, having stopped at a strip mall to pick up some odds and ends. I'm coming out of the liquor store when I am accosted by another bum, a late middle-aged black man who has somehow managed to get his eyeballs to point to two entirely opposite directions at the same time. As impressive as this sounds, it is not nearly as singular as his wardrobe, which consists of nothing but a pair of denim shorts that are way too short and one sandal.
"I'MA AXE YOU A QUESTION!" he bellows. In a (slightly) quieter tone he adds, "...and you can't look down on me because I'm black!" Of course, paragon of maturity that I am, the first thought that pops into my head is "Well, I wasn't planning on it, but now that you've told me I'm not allowed to, I kind of want to." I did not share this insight, partly from discretion, and partly through not being able to get a word in edge-wise. He capped off a somewhat involved peroration about being chased by "things" living in the sewer(and, no doubt, being poisoned by cigar-butts)with a request for spare change. I was unable to grant his wish and he wandered off again, possibly to look for his other sandal.
Later still, as I was sitting on a park bench watching people go to and fro and watching the ducks harass each other for the scraps left by the people I was approached by another man. "Excuse me, sir" he says.
"I bet you think I'm going to ask you for change, don't you?"
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"Well, I'm not. But if you had a spare hundred thousand dollars on you, I could use that, get me one of them lake houses. I'd even let you stay in the guest house for free."
Personally, I thought that was kind of clever, so I ended up giving him a couple of bucks. Although I am generally inclined to give hand outs to bums, depending on my mood and circumstances, I still like to see some ingenuity put into it, you know? I tend to like a little entertainment or a good story for my bum dollar. It never hurts your chances.