There’s a guy in a wheelchair who panhandles in front of the Starbucks on my new corner. He has one and a half legs, his stump featured in all weather. After only a month, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing him.
I was once told, souls such as he are placed there by sponsors of sort, who collect their earnings at the end of the day for the exchange of room, board and quasi care. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say. But there he is, 9 till 5, like a regular work day right till that factory whistle blows.
It’s hard, as you can well imagine, for me to just walk by him. He’s ornery on top of it. Not the kinda guy who pries open your heart.
But then there is that stump.
Can’t imagine, as active as I am, not to have two full legs. This is what got me to stop on a rainy Monday to ask, “Did you eat today?”
He gave me a sneer wiping his nose on his hoodie sleeve before saying, “Nope, I ain’t had nothin.”
“Okay…what would you like?” I said, donning my Good Semaritan hat.
“A cheese buga and fras,” he said, like I was his waitress at McDonald’s.
“Where can I get that?”
“Over there,” he says, without pointing in any specific direction.
“Hmm. Over there seems pretty vague,” I say, not willing to travel to Chicago to feed this guy.
“How bout some soup?” eyeing Panera around the corner, knowing I had a gift card.
“Soup? I hate soup.”
“Okay then, how bout this. How do you like your coffee?”
Without blinking an eye he says, “light, 6 sugas.”
I disappear into Starbucks coming back with a grande special with enough sugar to launch him into space, and he says, “dud a doughnut come with dat?”
Just another day folks, in the Naked City.