Close Encounters of the Poor Kind

A random homeless guy approached me today in the park and asked if “we could talk”. He appeared hispanic, short, thin, and generally non-threatening in appearance. His eyes went off to the side, kind of like the opposite of being cross-eyed, so it was hard to tell when he was making eye contact and when he wasn’t. He appeared fairly drunk, though his condition was probably worsened by the oppressive heat.

Not having anything better to do, I told him “sure, we can talk”. He said we should find some shade first and I immediately thought “oh this guy wants to rape me.” I figured he didn’t want money because I was wearing only a bathing suit, thus clearly lacking a wallet. But maybe he was too out of it to notice. Anyway, I told him I was staying put but we could talk right there.

He plopped down and started talking about how he used to live in southern California and ran a big drug business but lost millions and “all my weed, and heroin, and coke… and my wife”. I liked that he saved his wife for last. He said he went to prison for awhile but was out now and complained that he had wandered the country “north to south, east to west” and had failed to find what he was looking for. Canada or Mexico were his ideal places to return to, but he said neither country would let him in because of his “past”. Course, then he contradicted himself and said he’d “wandered through Canada” too. I didn’t bother to point it out.

I tried to empathize with his plight and shared one of my own previous run-ins with the law. After I told him the tale, he said, “You dumb fuck! When you gonna learn?”

Who WAS this guy?? Granted, he had more of a point than he knew… but drunk hobos have no business putting down those of us who have their act (mostly) together.

Ah, well. He went on to conclude that he had “lost it all” and took responsibility for it. The drinking issue was confirmed when he said “Sure, maybe I love beer too much…”. The following bit of dialogue then took place:

HOMELESS GUY: Hey, can you do me a favor, man?

ME: Sure.

HOMELESS GUY: >laughs< Why did you say that?

ME: Say what, “sure”?

HOMELESS GUY: Yeah, cuz you don’t know what I need yet.

ME: Well, I was implying that I would help if I can. So tell me, what is it?

HOMELESS GUY:  Oh. Listen, man, I just want somebody to shoot the shit with, y’know what I’m sayin? Share a beer and just talk.

ME: We’re having a conversation right now.

HOMELESS GUY: Yeah, but this is only scratching the iceberg.

ME: Uh-huh. Well, I kinda hate to be a crutch since you admitted to having an alcohol problem. I don’t want to help make your situation worse.

HOMELESS GUY: You don’t gotta buy no ‘ting tho. I’ll buy the beer. Cheapest they got is those 16oz Milwaukee’s Best. Just one each. That cool?

ME: I guess just one wouldn’t hurt anybody. It’s fucking hot out, a cold beer would be nice.

HOMELESS GUY: And I’m buying.

ME: That’s right.

HOMELESS GUY: How long you gonna be here?

ME: Maybe half an hour to an hour, I think.

HOMELESS GUY: Okay. I’ll go get beer, then come back.

And off he went. My first thought was that he might slip something into the drink. Course, if it were still sealed I wouldn’t have to worry. But even then, the beer would be cold since he has to walk a few blocks to get back. I realized I’d already been in the hot sun for nearly an hour and that was close to my burning point. So I went home. I felt kinda bad bailing on him, but I’d already given him a good 15-20minutes of my time. He probably downed both drinks on his way back anyway.

BOTTOM LINE: A homeless person offered to buy me a beer. And that’s worth sharing, dammit.


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