Working downtown makes you realize certain things about people, guiding you toward forming swifter assumptions, I think. For example, interns are easy to spot. They always look fresh, a little nervous, talking too quickly with their hands. Sassy young restaurant workers make me irritated. Businessmen check you out but pretend like they're not. Bus drivers might all be a little crazy and like to stop right on top of the crosswalk. Parallel parking will make you sweat. Don't make eye contact with homeless people unless you want to be followed across the street and asked an assortment of questions.
One more story of an encounter with homelessness. If you read this at all regularly, you may recall a post back in June about an unsettling encounter I had with a homeless woman. A few weeks ago, I passed a man crumpled up beneath a lamppost, holding a cardboard sign. I made eye contact with him. His sign said, "HUNGRY PLEASE HELP." All I had in my bag was my tupperware dinner (which I couldn't really give him, since the tupperware belonged to my landlord) and a square of Ghiradelli dark chocolate. Remembering the guilt I felt last time, I stopped and pulled out the chocolate and handed it to him with a smile. He took it from me, looked me in the eye and then scowled. And then he threw it in the gutter.
I was so bewildered I didn't know what to do, so I kept on walking. But what I really wanted to do was go fish my chocolate out of the gutter and yell at him. "Beggars can't be choosers, homeless guy! I want my chocolate back!" And now I'm all confused. Granted, a bit of chocolate isn't a huge act of charity, but it really was all I could give him. (And it was GHIRADELLI dark chocolate! Come on.) Instead, his completely disdainful response has only further hardened me to giving anything to panhandlers. I did give a slightly addled woman a dollar last week (she asked me if I had "98 cents"), quite happily, but again, not immense generosity here. What am I supposed to do when confronted directly on the street? It's still the same question I was asking before and now I feel even more distant from an answer. I know I can't make one ungrateful man a general rule for all homeless people, but now I'm just confused.
I find all the best blogs from Grace. I don't know where SHE finds them, but somehow she does, and they're just marvelous. Two that got me really excited tonight: Fresh 365, which makes me super-excited about cooking at McCauley in the fall, and Hearblack, which just makes me really, really want a great camera so I can catch light. When Jackie and I work the same nights, we also trade links with each other. Tonight, she told me about the Cats That Look Like Hitler and I shared Ugliest Tattoos with her (the Patrick Swayze centaur might be my all-time favorite).
Only four more days of work! The Peruvian adventurer comes on Monday and my dear Irish musician comes on Tuesday! I'm so excited about Kelsey and Guion that I can hardly sleep. Angela sent me a big-type, all-caps e-mail about it this morning that concluded, "GUION AND KELSEY WILL BE THERE SOON AND IT WILL BE LIKE DREAMGIRLS!!!"