Spitting Homeless Guy
Saturday morning we again met up in the Palm Room for pastries, bagels, more conversation, more photo ops, and swags. The swag table was already filled with goodies: pencils, play doh, fluffy pink computer pals, CDs (which didn't last long once they were set down), pins, bookmarks, fly swatters, cookies, candy, and, of course, glitter, and on and on. There was some seriously great stuff (Karen's quilted magnet/coaster). Some people went to an awful lot of work! I added my rather sad-by-comparison magnetic business cards to the table, trying to be as happy with them as possible. Believe me, I have a much better idea of what to do for next year!
The rest of the morning was filled with panels. I attended the "Writing for Fun and Profit" panel, and later the "Full Disclosure, How Much is Too Much" panel. Both were quite interesting and entertaining, and that's really all I can say about them. I didn't take notes, and was really just going for fun, anyway. I'm not willing to work hard enough to make money at my writing, and if was really worried about disclosing too much about myself, I wouldn't have started an online journal to begin with. I'm sure one of the other journallers will give more in-depth reviews of the panels, if you're really interested.
The third panel of the morning was about Movable Type, which I considered taking. I've seen many, many websites and photologs made using Movable Type, and have been really impressed. Unfortunately, my brain being mushy as it is hasn't been able to figure the whole thing out, and I wasn't sure I wanted to subject myself to what would essentially be a technical panel, so I opted out. I went back to the room to chill out a bit and eat a Pria bar before heading back downstairs to catch the group going to Alcatraz at noon.
Saturday afternoon can easily be divided into three parts: The Homeless Guy Incident, Vic: The Amazing Exploding Baby, and the Amazing Race to the Hotel. The Homeless Guy started out as a fairly nice, soft-spoken gentleman who just seemed down on his luck, but quickly transformed into a raging lunatic. He was already on the No. 15 bus when The Alcatraz Group embarked. I don't remember seeing him actually sitting there as much as I remember looking down at my feet as I shuffled down the aisle, and seeing a slender-fingered hand reach out and gently brush against my denim-clad thigh as I passed. I didn't think any more of it until I reached the back of the bus to sit with my group, and as I turned to sit down, I saw that the man had followed us, and sat with us. So it was myself, Viv, Bitter Hag and Bev, with a quiet, gentle Homeless Man in the middle. The Homeless Man turned to Bitter Hag and asked if we were in some kind of group. BH replied in the affirmative, and HM asked her what kind of group. BH told him we were an online group, and when he inquired further, told him that we were writers and that we just wrote about life.
"Well, I'm homeless, why don't you write about that," HM said, then leaned over me to Viv and asked her for a dollar.
"You got a dollar? I'm hungry."
"Sorry, no, I used it to get on the bus," Viv told him.
He asked me for a dollar, and I told him the same thing. As he asked me, his long, slender fingers gently stroked my forearm and thigh, both of which were clothed. Despite the hot, sticky weather, I was glad for the covering, as the gesture, however innocent, creeped me out. He turned back to BH and Bev and asked them for money. They both replied in the negative, and for whatever reason, HM decided to go off on BH.
"You're lying, bitch!" He yelled at her. He continued to rage at her, and I was so shocked at his sudden transformation nice guy to freakazoid that I only caught a few phrases: "Gimme a dollar, bitch, I'm hungry! I'm homeless, bitch, write about that. Why don't you write about that!"
He continued yelling at BH about a "white conspiracy" and that she was born with "a spoon in [her] mouth" (I'm assuming he meant for the spoon to be silver, but was too busy bitching to remember that part), and said that he was going to "cut [her] off at the head."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. At first I wasn't sure what it was - I thought I did, but it couldn't have been? Could it? I wouldn't have thought so, but the sound which accompanied what I saw was unmistakable, and it only took a moment for my brain to register that the Homeless Man had just spat on Bitter Hag! He didn't miss a beat of his rant, but I didn't manage to catch any more of what he said. I was too stunned to pay him any attention, and could only stare in awe at BH who glared angrily at HM though her sunglasses, but did not react. You might not have been able to actually see her eyes through the dark lenses, but there was no mistaking the hard line of her mouth or the clenched jaw muscles: she was pissed off. But, BH said nothing to the man, and when he finally managed to get money out of someone (I can't even remember who, now), he got off at the next stop, still bitching and saying he hoped the terrorists would kill us all. Charming.
When the bus got moving again, BH held her arm out, the spit still gleaming on her skin, and tried shaking it off, and eventually wiping it off on her jeans. Beth, mama of Vic: The Amazing Exploding Baby, handed her several baby wipes so she could get it cleaned off. One word: Ew!
Lord, just writing that right now made me a little nauseous, and the memory of the whole thing still pisses me off. [And, as a warning, this next little rant might piss some of you off, so if you're at all likely to feel sorry for homeless people and/or are homeless yourself, you might just want to skip ahead to Part Four.] While I do sympathize with homeless people and all that, sometimes they just piss me off. It annoys me that they stand or sit around and ask me for money when I'm walking by. It annoys me even more when they get all pissy about me not giving them any money.
"Just a dollar," they say, "You can spare a dollar, can't you?"
Well, you know what, Sparky? I can't. If I gave a dollar to every hungry, homeless person I passed on the street every day, I'd be homeless! I'd be hungry, and I'd be standing/sitting on the street corner right beside you asking people for money! Just because the outfit I'm wearing, which I got off the clearance rack at Ross two years ago, by the way, is clean and pressed, and just because I had a shower within the past couple of days, and took some pride in my appearance by actually combing my hair doesn't mean I'm rich, or that I was "born with a [silver] spoon in [my] mouth!" I'm not rich, fucky! I'm poor! I'm damn poor! I'm one paycheck away from living in my Goddamn broken down, eleven-year-old car, which would be very unpleasant because it's a very small, two-seat convertible.
So, don't stand there bitching at me (or my friends) because your life sucks ass. I'm sorry your life sucks ass, Sparky, really I am. But, you know what? There's something you can do about it. There are places you can go to get help, get a shower, get food, get clothes, get a bed to sleep in, get training, get a job. Really. Those places are out there: homeless shelters, soup kitchens, missions. Whatever the hell you call them, they're out there. When I do give my money to homeless people, that's where it goes: to the places and the people who's job it is to help the homeless get back on their feet.
Now, don't get me wrong, gentle reader: I feel damn sorry for the hungry, homeless people I pass on the street, I really do. I'm sure that's got to really suck not having a place to live, and having to carry around all your worldly possessions in a plastic bag or shopping cart, and not having food to eat whenever you want. Whenever I see a homeless person I think, "there but for the grace of God, go I." And I believe that. I know how fortunate I am to have a home, and food, and family to support me in every way possible, and I feel badly for those who aren't so lucky.
I felt bad for the guy on the bus, too, until he spat on Bitter Hag, called her a bitch and threatened to cut her head off. After that all my sympathy went right out the Goddamn window! Now I just think, "Fuck you, Sparky!"
It's just that there was just no good reason for that kind of behaviour. None at all. BH wasn't rude to him - none of us were, we just didn't have a dollar to spare for him. Whether that was true or not, I can only speak for myself. Okay, maybe I could've spared HM a dollar. Maybe. But, what if I needed that dollar to get back on the bus? What if I needed to put that dollar towards a taxi cab, or make change from it to use the phone if I got separated from my group, and was wandering lost in the city? Maybe that's just me being selfish, but really, I do have to take care of myself, because if I don't, ultimately no one else will.
Besides, I'm pretty sure that dollar I might've given you, had I had it to spare to begin with, probably wouldn't have gone into the nearest McDonald's with you to buy a burger and cup of coffee. It more likely would've been put together with the other dollars you bummed off kindly passersby and used to buy a bottle of cheap wine or whiskey, or to support whatever other drug habit you may have. Well, you know what, Sparky? I don't want my dollar to be used to buy heroin or crack or whatever the hell kind of poison you put in your body. I don't want my dollar to be used to keep someone down in the gutter, or make them sick, or kill them. I want my dollar to be put towards helping people, feeding people, lifting people up.
So, Homeless Guy, get thee to a shelter! Get thee to a soup kitchen! Wherever, whatever. Just get your ass off the street, and go to the people who can help you help yourself, and leave my friends and me the hell alone.