Stella and I went out this morning for our morning walk and, hey, surprise! There was a man sleeping in the doorway to my flat. He was definitely drunk, sleeping on a dingy sleeping bag, and a down comforter. "You can score some pretty sweet throwaways in SF," I said to the dog.
I went back inside.
"Yen? Yen, there's a guy sleeping on our doorstep."
"Should I put shoes on?"
It was really too early in the morning for such things.
Stella and I went out, stepping over Drunky McDrunkerson as he made an apologetic sound. I wondered to myself as I walked around Bernal Heights: did he come from the "Open at 6 AM" bars down the street, like Clooney's? What if he had tried to go to meetings, but his wife had kicked him out because of the drinking? What did he look like in his third grade class photo? The view from Bernal Hill makes one ponder - fog-choked city, lined up in neat rows: Folsom, South Van Ness, Mission, Valencia. Houses that match each other for a block are the projects, houses you can't see for the trees surrounding them are ones I will never afford.
We all start out as someone, and some of those ones get lost along the way. If we're lucky, someone sees fit to believe in us, to accept us, to give us a hand up when we're sleeping in a tent in the rain, or five days from payday and hungry. Some of us are lucky enough to have someone catch us. How many people did Drunky burn through? How come he couldn't save himself from this fate? When did he notice he was homeless?
Anyhow, Drunky was still there (snoozing away) when I returned from the park. I'd like to think I thought charitable thoughts like the Little Sisters of Infinite Mercy. Instead, I remembered that my father would say "don't give money to that fucking bum," how everyone else would say I was too nice for not calling the cops.
What would I want if I had no place better to sleep than outside someone's door, next to the recycling bin?
I gathered up a few little things. Hotel soap and shampoo, a bottle of advil - all things I had gotten for free and would likely never use. Last night's leftovers, which weren't really all that great. A half a bottle of OJ. I left these little items, and the guy, in the doorway. Don't get me wrong, I don't want him to stay - that's my doorway. Should I tell him there's rats?
Am I a better person for this? Hell, no. There is no good and bad, no matter how we try to simplify our little worlds. These people live among us on the street. They do awful things sometimes, and don't exactly liven the air with their presence. They are considered a problem populace, and still they are our neighbors.
His stuff was still there when I got home. I threw it in the street, feeling justified.
Didn't someone name you, once, like a star, a whirl of infinite possibilities? It does me no harm to ask you your name.
ed note: and then I found this outside, with the clean empty tupperware from my grudging leftovers, written on an etch-a-sketch:
Greed will be the downfall of the downfall of the white "man" "men" etc...
(I am you and you are me and we are all together)
some people say I'm a dreamer but I am not the only one and on and on.