FALLING FOR THEIR EYES
I blame my lack of foresight. I should have known. Often there are at least two of them, one at either end of the block. Sometimes more than two.
See, the lack of foresight applies to the money in my wallet.
Only ONE single!
Normally I have at least six or seven singles, just in case.
I gave the solitary single to the likeable dude with the missing teeth waiting at the near corner. He’s a very gentle person, and always looks somewhat baffled and hurt. Like many of our street people, he’s not quite ready for prime time.
No, I don’t know his story. But it’s fairly obvious that life hasn’t been working out particularly well for him. He keeps himself clean, and probably gets housing assistance or lives with a roommate in a fleabag hotel room.
I never buy the street sheet he sells, just give him a buck whenever I see him and say hello.
The other guy was across the street from the smoker’s wall. When I got there I asked some of the others if they could break a twenty. During the entire time I was there enjoying my pipe, I could see him standing helplessly on the opposite sidewalk, shyly offering his newspapers to the passing lunch crowd. No one stopped.
Perhaps they’ve already seen the latest edition of the street sheet?
That would certainly explain why they weren’t buying a copy.
I have this little routine when I’ve finished the mid-day pipe. After cleaning the briar, I twist the used pipe-cleaners into a little spiky octopus shape. Then I go across the street, give the street-sheet man a dollar, and dump the octopus into the grating between the parked motorbikes.
There's a five year deposit down there already.
It will be years before that drain is filled.
In the meantime, one dollar a day.
Later on the legless fellow with the equitable temperament will be outside, tincupping the rushing office-workers on their way home. Perhaps the tall thin gentleman with the beautiful smile and warm eyes will be on the other side of the street.
That’s two more dollars.
I haven’t seen Elmo in a while. He always tells everybody it’s his seventieth birthday.
He’s probably been doing that for years now. He looks much older than that.
I hope the old coot is okay, he looks kind of bony and fragile.
There's also a small bent woman on Sansome Street near the Starbucks.
I see her there two or three mornings on my way in. Remarkably, I've never noticed the customers of that coffee joint give her any money.
I have to wonder if they even leave any tips when they pick up their grande frappudrinkies.
Maybe the six-dollars it costs for their daily caffeine is all they can afford.
Oh, and their dry-cleaning. But that's a business expense!
A long time ago I saw someone else also give her money.
That person was not drinking designer coffee.
Which may be a significant datum.
Yes, I guess I encourage the sparechangers in the financial district.
Some of them need all the encouragement they can get.
San Francisco is not gentle for the down and out.
That’s why there’s always a line at Glide.
A long, lean, hungry line.
If you’re not super-enthused about giving money to random strangers in public, despite their extremely low overhead and very negligible operating costs, perhaps you could donate a little bit to a worthy cause?
To donate by mail, please make your checks payable to GLIDE and send to:
330 Ellis Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
For donations by phone, please call the Development Office with your credit card info.
You can read more about Glide Memorial Church here:
I think you'll agree that it's a good place.
That's just a suggestion.
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.