Just someone with troubles

I'd picked up a book at the library, and was headed to Mrs Rigby's for lunch. At the southbound bus stop, an older white lady was waiting, wearing a cloth coat, and beside her, a granny cart, the tall kind that old folks use for bringing groceries home.



& links

Nov. 1, 2022

You get so accustomed to homeless people, vagrants and derelicts and panhandlers, and as I approached the bus stop, I was trying to guess whether she was a bum, or simply old, gray, and poor enough to take the bus.

Her gray hair had been recently combed, but was presently loose and twirled about by the wind. Her body language and facial expression hinted at homelessness. Her cart was had a few inches of stuff in it but no groceries, and her coat was dirty toward the bottom, and she was talking to herself. Homeless, I decided, or at least she had serious troubles, and was on a possible trajectory toward the depths.

I said howdy, because that's what you do, and then sat on a bench and started my book. When the bus came, she pulled her cart aboard and I followed her up. We sat near each other, and I'm a people person long as I don't have to talk to anyone, so I looked at her again as she looked out the window. Almost wrote, "She used to be pretty," but didn't, because she still is. A pretty face with wrinkles is still a pretty face. 

She pulled a weathered plastic bag from her cart, rummaged through it, and brought out a cell phone, and that slightly surprised me. The homeless usually aren't carrying cells, so perhaps I'd been mistaken?

Onward we went, and I turned my attention out the window again.

The bell rang, and the bus pulled over, slowing to stop in front of a newish high-rise apartment. Before the door was open, before the bus had even stopped, a burly black man on the sidewalk shouted, "Hey, Hadiza!" loud enough to be clearly heard over the rumble of the bus.

He'd spotted a woman inside the bus — Hadiza, apparently — standing and waiting to step off. "Hey your damned self," she laughed back at him, as we stopped rolling and the driver whooshed the door open.

Hadiza stepped down to the sidewalk, where she and the man talked for half a minute. "Too long since I've seen you," she said, and he answered, and we were all watching, listening on the bus as a couple of middle-age or older black people caught up with each other on the sidewalk.

The driver patiently waited. Can't speak for anyone but me, but I never have anywhere urgent to be, so I was amused, not annoyed as they talked about someone else they both knew.

And then he said to her, "You look fine, by the way, and where did you get that nice jacket?"

"You gave it to me, fool," she said, laughing again.

"Yeah, I remember," he said. "I wanted to make sure you remember."

"I remember," she said, "but it's not going to get you what you want," and I'm sure everyone on the bus wondered what he wanted. Leftover macaroni and cheese? Spare ribs, perhaps?

Finally he stepped onto the bus, and started fumbling with his wallet. Nobody else was getting on, but the driver left the door open, so they talked a little longer while he dug for his bus pass.

"Where you going?" she asked him.

"To the barber shop," he said. "I've gotta be there by 1:00." It was 1:15, and his hair was in perfect cornrows, so I don't think he was getting a cut. More likely, he's one of the barbers.

And with a whoosh, the driver closed the door, waited for this man to sit down, and then we rolled away while the barber and Hadiza waved at each other. And yessir, I wouldn't mind some of that macaroni and cheese myself.

The cloth coat lady, maybe homeless, maybe not, was still scrolling through her phone. All the ride, she'd occasionally said things to herself, about people she hated and her son who never calls, and as the bus turned a corner she said, "Oh, maybe that would be fun. Little Shop of Horrors is on stage in Everett."

Well, she can't be homeless if she's even thinking of going to a play. And also I somehow hadn't noticed, she was carrying a to-go cup with a lid, and sometimes sipping coffee from it. Not homeless, I decided with finality, correcting my earlier verdict.

She was very talkative, though, telling the empty seat next to her about the rumors of snow by the weekend. "Is it fucking winter already?" she asked herself. Nobody answered, but it's cold, and I think Seattle's going to bypass autumn entirely.

Lunch at Mrs Rigby's, I'm more and more thinking, is the best bargain in the city. Two big juicy burgers with the works plus a plate full of fresh, crispy, terrific french fries, for $12 plus change and tip. It's a few bucks more if I order a drink, so I'll just have water, thanks.

On my way out, I gave five dollars to the block's homeless guy. First time I'd given him anything. I've always been stingy, because I don't want him hitting me up every time I'm at the diner, but he's not that kind of homeless, I've decided. He hadn't even asked me for money, today. He's only asked two or three times in all the months I've been coming to the diner.

And even if he does start nagging at me, what the hell. I'm paying $12 plus tip for a meal, there really ought to be a homeless tax too, and I'm happy to pay it.

 On my ride back home, here's something I hadn't seen in years. 

Some homeless woman was struggling to drag her cart onto the bus, and a teenage boy popped out of his seat to help her. I kinda marveled at that. You don't see good manners like often, and I have none; I hadn't even been watching to see what he saw. Hadn't noticed who was getting on the bus, until he darted to the door.

Yup, it was the same cloth coat lady who'd ridden southbound with me, now riding north. Her cart was had several bags of groceries in it, which proves that I don't know nothing about nothing. I'd thought she was homeless, just because her coat is old and dirty, and her hair was windswept, and she talks to herself a lot. 

Gotta be careful with snap decisions and stereotyping. Hell, my coat is old and dirty, and I talk to myself, and my hair would be a mess if it wasn't a crew-cut, but I'm not homeless. Not yet, anyway. I'm just someone with troubles, on a possible trajectory.

And now, the news you need,
whether you know it or not

Referendum effort to block Arisona's tax cuts for the rich makes the ballot 

Judge blocks Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster merger 

For as long as it takes them to appeal to some Republican court.

CitiBank's response to new law requiring job postings to list a salary range: $0 - $2,000,000 

How the courts keep the wrongfully convicted from proving their innocence 

Yes, a Republican running for congress has written Christian fan-fiction about Anne Frank

Nose picking could increase risk for Alzheimer's and dementia 

Well, it was nice knowing ya.

One-word newscast,
because it's the same news every time…

• Climate change isn't 'coming', it's underway. It'll kill billions, and we're not doing squat about it.   





• All cops are bastards, or they know who the bastard cops are and do nothing about it, which is the same thing.  











• Republicans are the enemy of common sense, common decency, simple truth, and democracy.  











Other links I liked

How the New York Times shat on an independent movie, 30 years ago 

• "Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known"?

The original pitch for Star Trek 

Lightning strikes seven times

Moon Museum 

♦ ♦ ♦

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

"The Sound of Silence" by Paul Simon without Garfunkel

♦ ♦ ♦

The End

Dilip Mahalanabis 

Jody Miller 

Ngo Vinh Long 

Ian Whittaker


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...

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