As is often the case for a man with my busy schedule, I found myself heading out to the grocery store one late evening to restock the pantry.
After parking the Hoopermobile and trying to wrestle loose a cart inside, I am greeted enthusiastically by a local homeless fellow who has taken it upon himself to befriend me. Waving and using his outside voice he calls out “Hey! Hey!” He’s waving to me like a castaway using semaphore to flag down a passing ship.
You know when you’re at a party or work/school, and somebody you don’t immediately recognize calls out in your general direction? You’re not quite sure if they’re talking to you, but you don’t want to be a git, so, after a quick check behind, you wave back to be polite. That’s what I did.
And it was a mistake, because I now I had engaged the unwashed gentleman with the distinct aroma of crazy. “How ya doing?” he calls out as he tries to make his way over. At this point, I’m whispering a hushed and hurried prayer to the grocery cart gods to release just one of their followers so I may make an immediate escape.
Sensing my desire to get away, my new friend calls out again loudly and with more desperation. My cart finally comes loose, and with a weak smile, quick nod of the head, downcast eyes, and quick feet I get away.
Now, there was nothing wrong with this guy – he was a little unsettling but polite. But I was uncomfortable with him so I choose to dodge him rather than treat him with the same courtesy. Schmuck.
About halfway through my trip, I’m comparing the relative merits of a variety of generic frozen pizzas when I become aware that I need to pee. Not the when-I-get-home need to pee, but the find-a-bathroom-now-to-avoid-embarrassment need to pee. One problem – to get to the bathroom I have to go past my new friend. I seriously consider abandoning my cart and heading for home.
Advancing with all the stealth I could muster with a bursting bladder, I find the coast clear. I stash my cart near the deli, briefly marvel at the majesty of single-serving bags of Nutter Butters, and duck into the bathroom.
And there he is. No where to hide, run away, or pretend I don’t see him. And with a weak smile, quick nod of his head, downcast eyes, and quick feet he leaves.