A homeless encounter

Another take on the street folk

The author is a freelance writer and “day-to-day survivor.” She wrote the June 13 CN&R Cover story “Canning way of life” under a pen name.

I laugh when people say they meet “good people” on the street—mothers and children and kind men. I meet stringy, weather-beaten men of indeterminate age with matted hair and beards, and women who look like troglodytes. They’re loud, aggressive, insistent, demanding, rude and overly familiar. They’re entitled, because they think I have more than they do and I should share. They will have money from me. But in reality they won’t, leaving them to shout, “Fuck you, bitch!”

I recently had an encounter with some homeless on a morning when the heavens opened and I got soaked going to the grocery store, even though I took the bus most of the way. On my way back from the store, I tried to walk beneath the awning that protects the storefronts.

In front of the laundromat, a group of street people was camping out, obviously as eager as I was to avoid getting wet. I threaded my way delicately through their bicycles, trailers and gear. As I stepped over an empty dog-food bowl, a beefy young man with rust-red, wiry hair and a beard confronted me. “You should have said, ‘Excuse me!’” he announced. “Better yet, you should have just walked around us!”

I expressed a wish not to get any wetter than I already was, and foolishly said I believed that the sidewalk was for everybody. Red Beard rejoined that I should just go out in the rain, turn my face up, open my mouth and drown like a stupid turkey. He demonstrated this and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

I retorted cleverly, “I think I’m talking to a turkey.” That effectively ended the conversation, except that as I turned to go, the woman squatting by the food bowl started making gobbling sounds. The homeless must have the last word—or sound, in this case.

Right now, I’m all for a “no sit, no lie, no stand, no sleep, no breathe, no piss, no…”—well, you know. The homeless don’t want to behave. They don’t get along with others; they don’t want to. They don’t want rules and regulations. They want to come and go as they please; drink, smoke or ingest whatever they desire; misbehave; and have you love them anyway.