Friday, April 22, 2005

Close Encounters of the Noxious Kind

Well, yesterday I certainly had an interesting morning.

First, I was running a little late. Not crazy late, just late enough for me to think, “Man, I’m running late.” I get to my lot, park, pay and as I’m walking away from the pay box I'm approached by a hobo (I call any panhandler a hobo. I call some of them nothoboes because they look like you or me and don't have the hobo stench and probably are otherwise perfectly capable of having the life sucked out of them like the rest of us at a 9 to 5 job). He starts in on his spiel about his car breaking down or his girlfriend having been taken to the hospital or the fact that he just got out of jail. I mean, color me apathetic, but I feel like a Hollywood producer being pitched romantic comedy ideas. “You see Roger, she APPEARS ugly, but after a visit to the ophthalmologist for contacts and the beauty salon for a hair flattening, it turns out that she’s actually HOT. Now everybody likes her. How she gonna handle that?” I didn’t really pay any attention to what he was saying; I’ve heard it all before.

I happened to have some change in my pocket and I handed it to him. Let’s all remember here that I am under no moral or legal obligation to give this random, reeking of booze dude any money at all. He takes the money and immediately starts
dropping f-bombs on me. Here's how the conversation went with my thoughts in italics.

AngeredHobo: What the fuck is this? Fourteen cents.
Me: Uh, sir, it's actually 15 cents.
AH: What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?
Me: I don’t know take a shower? Put it towards a bottle of mouthwash . . . well, you’d probably just drink that.
AH: Fourteen cents, how can I do anything with that?
Me: Sorry man, you’ll have to ask someone else. That’s all I have to give you. [Hoboes know you have more money. I always try to defuse the situation by saying it's all I have to give you. -ed.]
AH: Fuck man. I can’t even by a quarter cupcake with this!
Me: What the fuck is a quarter cupcake?

He continues to drop the f-bomb, loudly, and starts to walk away. Now, I’m no dummy and momma always told me not to follow an irate hobo, so I stay in front of my parking lot waiting to cross the street.

He got far enough away that I thought I was safe and I began formulating this post in my mind, because really, "quarter cupcake". I formulated too soon. He turns around still within his f-bomb raid. He walks up to me and stands within my
“noHobo Zone”, i.e. right on top of me. We're looking at each other and at this point, the adrenalin starts kicking in. I have a problem though. I wasn’t in my fighting gear. I had my European carry-all over my left shoulder and my lunch bag in my right hand, not exactly brass knuckle material. I don't really know HOW to fight, but Hobo doesn't know that. He also doesn't know that my last fight was in the 6th grade and that I hit like a girl – think Danny Ferry trying to slap Michael Jordan. What he does know is that I’ve got about 2 inches and 40 pounds on him and
that his lack of calcium intake probably means a few broken ribs if I’m able to sit on him. I’m thinking, “This dude is probably on something. I’ve never seen a dime and five pennies make someone so upset. I’ll take my chances with him, hand-to-hand, if I have to – then I’ll go home and shower – man does he stink. But, if he’s strung out on something I’m in trouble. And he might have the shiv on him that he used to stab some other hobo for a half-bottle of Mad Dog last night.” I wasn’t intimidated, but I was scared.

He's standing close enough to give me my next dental exam when he reaches inside his coat . . . Uh-oh . . . and pulls out . . . a lighter . . . Dude, 15 cents is like 15% of the way to a new lighter! Yours is looking pretty raggedy . . . He starts to light up a joint, I think, or an olden-style cigarette that was rolled with newspaper and filled with pencil shavings. I can smell the stink of booze and rage on his breath. He says, “You wanna swing man?” Swing? Like sleep with you and your partner? Or are you talking about dancing? Or maybe fighting? . . . Roger, this is Brain - we're unable to determine what the hobo is talking about, you’re on your own. I say, “Uh, no thanks man.” He drops another f-bomb, by now the sidewalk is littered with them, and walks off.


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