The room was all lit up. The line at the soup kitchen had been long that Friday night and the gaunt woman was in front of the last table, the one with all the pastries and other dessert type foods. “What can I have?” she asked the young volunteer standing behind the table. “You can have some slices of bread, a cookie and something else.” “I’ll take the raisin bread, please, that cookie and could I have that pudding?” An older volunteer stood to the right of the woman. She wore a long missionary type dress. “Did You get anything from here?” “Yes, I did,” the woman said opening her black bag. “Then, you can’t have this cookie.” The cookie was small.
Archive for December, 2014
Lots of garbage bags–there were many black garbage bags piled up on top of one another. The old woman stopped to look. There was one small suitcase. It looked new and hardly used. She got close and started to try on the zippers. A man approached her. “This is mine, ” he said. The old woman looked him over. He was tall and thin, not at all respectable looking. “You are wrong. I was here first.” The man took the suitcase from her and tried on the zippers. The woman’s face became red. She leaned on her cane; her right hand holding on tight. “I’ll give you something.” “Yeah, that’s right. Give me something.” He took out a wad of bills from his pockets. “Here, take this.” “You are giving me only 2 dollars! Thanks.” The woman looked to see if anyone, like a cop, was walking towards them. There was no one. “You are a liar and thief,” she told him.
It was a cold windy early Sunday evening. The man walked fast. His head was down and his face hidden by a black hoodie. He clutched part of his short winter coat with his right hand. Outside a closed restaurant someone had left two transparent bags. “Oh, bagels,” the man said, getting close to the bags. He took out a supermarket bag from one of his pockets and counted up to 6. After his food gathering job was finished, the man walked on towards the subway.
He was all zipped up in his jacket. Only the dog’s face was visible. Two young men knelt in front of him. On the sidewalk, the dog was surrounded by broken up pieces of cardboard boxes. I am Homeless. Please Help, was written on one such box. He was brave. While the men did what they could to put a blanket on him, he was motionless. The wind on his face didn’t seem to bother him.
While I rack my brain I try to live. I try to live a little, till tomorrow or the next day after tomorrow. Things might change. I don’t know that but I keep hoping. I fill myself with good stuff, with stuff that will make me feel glad instead of sad.
Midtown Manhattan, late afternoon: Cars were everywhere. The noise was deafening. The man, sitting by a hydrant, didn’t hear any of it, not the fire sirens, not the people talking as they walked by him. His head was down and his arms almost reached the sidewalk. Plastic bags were all around him. Some bags were red, others grey, another white. The dark green garbage can near the fire hydrant sheltered him. The man was not moving.