It’s Monday, beginning our new week, on the street it is just another day in search of food. Again I had to go to my pharmacy before beginning passing out food. When I walked out of the drugstore, there was an older man sitting on a bench with his shirt off. I met him before so I walked over to him and he recognized me as he was drinking something awful out of a Starbucks cup. I asked him ,”if he wanted food and water today” his response was ” I have a lot of stuff in this cart , nothing fresh”. I gave him something fresh, upon leaving him I called out to ‘Frankie’ who has been on the street for 15 years off and on. He is a small man and has some sort of psychosis but friendly, I have given him food once and was looking at the cart but did not ask for something to eat. I asked him which made him smile and talk, talk, talk as I was leaving. Two packs given out within one block and that was the way it went for the next two blocks ..all gone. The couple was out there today eating food from the trash near the restaurant row, they received two packs with water like the others. Last pack was given to the man whom I call ‘Snaggertooth”, he was sitting on a short brick wall pretending he was reading a paper (too funny).
Tuesday, brought some normality to the streets for a hot second..I chose to ride the bus further down Market Street to Sanchez (three blocks more than usual). I noticed a body under a bright blue sleeping bag so I walked over to see a mop of blond hair sticking out of the opening. He was fast asleep so I woke him up somewhat, I said “Are you hungry and do you want some water to drink?” He barely spoke but I could decipher yes ma’am, after giving him the food and watched him place it on the sidewalk near him . I told him that may not be wise as I was giving him the water which he snatched from me he was not pleased with me keeping him from his slumber. I hurriedly left him to reach my next person who was in need of food..found him a short block away. All of these are new people to the area which bring curiosity when I give them the packs and water. The last man stood there after receiving the food as if he was waiting me to follow-up with a demand, when I said “goodbye enjoy your lunch” his only response was “thank you ma’am God Bless you”! I have one pack/water left so I go up the other side of the street, where in a corner of an empty storefront was the beautiful blond suspected addict. “Hello”, I said and she was equally polite in her greeting to me. She accepted the food pack leaving me with a thank you and a compliment on todays jewelry I wore.
Mid-week-Wednesday was rapid passing out the food packs and water … after stepping off the bus I decided to walk through a converted area from trolley tracks and cars to a sitting area for socializing. Sitting on the ground was a man who talks to space aliens. He has been on the street for a while telling by his rags for clothes. He glanced up from his conversation as I got near him, asking him if he wanted food and water he never missed a beat in his one man conversation by saying “yes”. As I passed him the food I noticed a basket cart in my peripheral vision and the older man I fed a couple of days ago spoke. He lapsed into a lengthy descriptive of how my sandwiches were the best in the city. How it had just enough mayonnaise and mustard, well he was rewarded for his creativity though not necessary to receive the food pack. I walked a couple of feet and sitting at an outside table in front of Subway Sandwich Shop was an older women (whom I have seen on the street for over a year). This lady travels with rolling luggage carriers , cardboard boxes and a cat in a pet carrier. I have wondered about her and believed she was a retired librarian..hair combed , nicely dressed and lipstick on similar to the beautiful needle using young women. Accepting the food and water I offered to her she asked me my name. I gave her my middle name and she gave me hers ‘Janice’. Telling me she was a school teacher and that she is an activist, wanting to open a front office for others to share their concerns..complaints etc. I now had to take my leave as I explained to her walking away. She loudly said to me ‘Thank You!” I smiled and started back on my pilgrimage looking for a couple of others and found them easily. A stylish women sitting on the ground near the street crossing at Church and Market Street in stress, I could not discern if she was crying or talking on a cell phone with those remote devices..she wasn’t doing either. She was auguring with herself however stopped when I came in her eyesight. Offering her food and water made her peaceful in her voice and posturing followed with a thank you nice lady. As I finished up today’s allotment of packs to a man who most definitely has been on the street for years was so glad to receive fresh food today that he started eating right away.
This dear friends is what our streets hold for those living on it: many mentally ill , physically ill, emotionally ill, many economically ill and Spiritually ill..
Next Installment: ENDING THE WEEK