Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
newest | archives | search | about | wishlist | flickr | email | rss
'… a sort of a submissive acquiescence to feelings of bafflement and confusion.'
There's a homeless man who has taken to huddling in an armchair in the most out-of-the way corner of the corporate coffeeshop, nearly a typical patron, sitting for hours at some task, or nothing, absorbed, mostly discreetly save for the obnoxiously overloud device on which he's playing videos, and the thick odor of clothing too long unwashed. He lugs his belongings around in several cinched-up Target bags, half of which he brings inside, half of which he leaves lined along the location's exterior just by the side entrance, then popping outside—a bit too restively—to rummage around for something. His usage of the facilities feels faintly excessive, as if by even noticeably preparing to enter a bathroom, rather than going directly in, and by exiting somewhat too perceptibly refreshed, he has offended against some propriety of public spaces that suppresses all knowledge of the need for them. But he addresses no one, asks nothing of them—and is not addressed by anyone, until he makes a sortie across the shop and the barista, a walking smiling training video, who seems to spend the majority of his shifts explaining company policies and procedures to his endless sequence of new coworkers, calls out, 'sir, the stirring bar'—or whatever pompous thing it is the corporate glossary says to call the stand with the napkins and sweetener and cream on it—'is for paying customers only'. He offers to get the man a tea, meaning a paid tea, but they resolve this disruption of order silently, transacting nothing, and the man returns to his corner.
There is a void of humanity where he sits. He's alone in it. It does not emanate from him; it encircles him, the very definition of someone who could be helped. We wrap him in it.
Another homeless man. Or? I don't know, don't try to know; all I can say is that he approaches a counter, lingering but not sitting, at another branch of the corporate coffeeshop down the road a ways, where I'm sitting, a paying customer. Apparently unable to draw me out of inattention as he wished, he hovers a bit closer, issues a gruff, inarticulate vocalization, and I turn, annoyed, some expression on my face: 'What is it?' He reads my expression for me: 'Don't beat me, don't beat me'. I lie to him: 'I don't have any cash'. I forget his line.
'That man is a drug addict', another customer pronounces to the others listening after he leaves. 'A criminal', she emphasizes, explaining how he cases the busy commercial street looking for unlocked cars; breaks into apartments; takes.
After he exits he stands off to the side in the shop's little parking lot for a long time, sullen, smoking. The baristas talk about whether calling police will be necessary.
A woman with a cart who trundles up and down the same street; I've seen her often and she in turn has seen me. Her plea is abrupt, unadorned: 'Do you have any money?'. I lie.
I keep seeing her around, but now what she sees is that I'm avoiding seeing her.
A woman working the room at the coffeeshop quietly but efficiently. She says she's a home care worker who can't get paid, or has lost work, can't cover rent, only needs so much. She carries a cup from the Starbucks across the street, the competition. It's been worked into her pitch, though I don't think about it until she calls it to my attention: 'Someone at the Starbucks was kind enough to buy this for me'. When she gets to her ask, I just tell her no. 'God bless you', she says, and means it. Soon she is hovering at a nearby bus stop, reading faces.