Now, when say I live across the street from a food bank, I live across the street from the Cherry Street Food Bank. The Cherry Street Food Bank is the single largest and most popular food bank in all of Seattle. It also happens to be located near the Crazy Hospital. The one with metal detectors in the lobby and x-ray machines in the entrances. I live in Madness Central.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the party days. All the cool kids go on these days, because that’s when they have sandwiches and pre-packaged meals and warm and toasty goodness, and you’re not limited to Top Ramen and cans of string beans. It’s like being in with the really awesome camps at Burning Man with kitchens that have microwaves and refrigerators instead of just Clif Bars and Tasty Bites. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays…Cherry Street becomes a very, very busy place pedestrian-wise.
I leave for work, on average, at about 8:00am. The favorite waiting spot for a particular gaggle of Chinese women is the front steps of my apartment building. Now, this is *my* building. I live here. I pay rent. Yet as I attempt to wade through their hunched over, impatient little bodies as they cackle to each other in Chinese, they glare up at me and hiss in their native tongue, as if I have the vaguest idea as to what insults and profanities they’re hurling at me. They wiggle and grunt and shove their shoulders and elbows at me, pissed that I’m in their way. Seriously, ladies…I fucking LIVE here. I want to kick them. Badly. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They’re so old and small I could drop-kick them into Cherry Street. Just because they’re less fortunate and hungry does not give them cause to hiss and spit at me for trying to leave my building. Sometimes I pretend I’ve forgotten something just so I have to go back into my apartment and wade through them again not just once, but twice. I’ve been tempted to trip and fall on them. Bloody hell.
Walk up to my building. And I notice. Someone has set up residence.
He looks quite pleased with himself…a couple backpacks, some shoes, random bits of clothing. He’d obviously come from aforementioned food bank as strewn about him in a semicircle were various food wrappers, plastic utensils, a couple beer cans (I’m certain Northwest Harvest has not taken to dispensing alcohol as of yet…), and with what teeth he had left, was intermittently munching on what looked to be some sort of sandwich, though he had to sort of “gum”-it, as he had few teeth left, and gulping mouthfulls of “Icehouse” beer. Oh, and mumbling incoherently to himself.
Now, I’m not one to judge the plights of others. We all find ourselves in less than ideal circumstances, they suck, misfortune falls upon some and not others, etc etc. But when they dump their plight all over the front steps of my apartment building when there is plenty of room on the nearby lawn across the street, or even under the I-5 overpass across 7th Avenue…then we have a problem.
I realize soon enough that making my way past this gentleman to get into my building wasn’t going to be the problem. Getting myself and my dog out of the building for Doppler’s nightly constitutional was going to be the real challenge, due to two factors: Doppler’s love of 1) food and 2) people.
As we left the double doors to the building, the gentleman shied away, assuming Doppler was going to engulf his cranium in one mouthful, which unfortunately I have been unable to train him to do as of yet. Instead, he wagged his tail like a drunken fool in an attempt to elicit a pet from our unpleasantly scented guest. This was a fail, all Doppler managed to accomplish was some twitching and mumbling from our uninvited stoop decoration. I led my dog down the steps to the shrub across the sidewalk which is the official first stop on the nightly tree-marking regimen and he elegantly hiked his leg and went about his business. On a tree. Which is where he is supposed to be going.
This is where the irony kicks in.
As Doppler is taking care of his business, this person, in clothing that hasn’t seen soap in months, a beard filled with droplets of beer and mayonnaise, a mouth full of rotted teeth, a stench unlike anything I’d caught walking past the dumpsters alongside the building, looks at my dog, and mutters through his toothless gums,
This is where my brain began to fold in upon itself a bit, and as I slowly turned my head to glare at him, all I could manage was,
“You prefer your feet over the shrub, then?”
I can only assume his brain gave up because all he could manage was some twitching and a few savage grunts. Doppler and I haughtily took off down the sidewalk to continue around the block. When we made our way back to the steps, our dinner guest was frantically packing up his belongings, peering at us out of the corner of his eye. As we made our way back up the steps I permitted Doppler enough slack on his leash to make the fragrant vagrant just a bit uncomfortable. It amused me.
Now please don’t get me wrong. Like I said, I do not judge the less fortunate. I do, however, get irritated at those who camp on my steps and act like I am the inconvenience, then insult my dog. Then the gloves are off.
The Chinese women are next. They go off on me one more time…I’m bringing Doppler out later than usual. Might even let him lick their faces.
Voulez-voulez-vous…um…shit. I have no voulez-voulez-vous today. Wow.