8th and Massachusetts

a pit bull, a rough looking guy, whose bones seem stiff, he is grey with white spots, big barrel chest, skinny legs,  his demeaner is somewhat attached as he watches the humans sit,  there is a collection of dog food cans, I see him pee on the fence behind the RV, his collection of feces piles around the garbage.

 My mornings usually start with my cat Sheba letting me know its time to wake up, step outside, take our walk around the yard. She does want me to follow her around her path, then sit and enjoy the morning with its stars with her and listen to the birds waking and beginning their day.

She gazes at me between her bushes of territory, her look of that connection that loving pets have, this is home and life is good.

When the time is right, she lets me know when its time for her to receive her breakfast.

We step back up the stairs, into our house, I feed her, then begin preparing for my day at work as she gives me a disappointed look and reminds me, she has the track ball, bird on string, and other games that have no possible equal of fun and importance outside of those doors.

As I step into my car, then turn onto the street,

Its difficult to find an argument with her.

8th and Massachusettes has been a “layover” spot for me for a number of months now.

Its also a rather permanent tent encampment.

There are a few RV’s, trucks with campers, and a dozen or more tents.

All in various and continuous states of decline.

There are early mornings I drive by and see a few sitting by a fire or “rough made” BBQ making their meal or coffee but sightings of people there are rare.

The evidence by their comings and goings is evidenced by their garbage and their constant addition of “stuff” broken furniture, lawnmowers, various metal and wood objects, things that make no sense to me, as it seems there is effort at carrying this stuff to the location for no reason at all except for the possibility that it makes a fence around their dwellings, a   trip hazard, or lose definition of their space.

Garbage begins to fill in between the spaces of the objects, paper, unwashed clothes, food wrapping, boxes.

The height of this “fence” begins to equal the height of the tent.

One of the RV’s is in rough decline, it started out ok, then windows break, panels fall, tires leak then go flat, the garbage and collection of stuff around it gather high.  They have a BBQ, a pit bull, a rough looking guy,

whose bones seem stiff, he is grey with white spots, big barrel chest, skinny legs,  his demeaner is somewhat attached as he watches the humans sit,  there is a collection of dog food cans, I see him pee on the fence behind the RV, his collection of feces piles around the garbage.

He makes his way around the perimeter, sniffs, on guard as he seems to know its his job to keep a look out, be ready.

I am confident, that whatever the humans do not notice, he does.

Tarps will stretch across multiples of these homes, there are walkways inside and under these tarps ties to the garbage and collections of stuff.

Seagulls, Crows, Rabbits who keep wary of the dogs, Rats I see often scamper from one point to another.

There is a woman I guess to be in her 30s that lives in one of the better kept RV’s, she has found a business across the corner of her parked home has left their spicket available.  She access this water for filling cooking pots, general water for drinking and cleaning.

She drops her gray sweatpants relieves herself as she leans against the building. A rat makes a rush for her grocery bag she leans to her left, picks up a rock and is able to hit the bag, the rat darts away, she pulls up her pants, her dirty white t shirt is sweat soaked and no bra.

A man riding one of the red rent a bikes rides begins to ride by, he is gliding a rent a scooter in his hand as he drives by and says something to her, she flips him off.

A small unhealthy-looking Rat makes a run across the intersection, a dirty brown grey gull dives on it, they fight, the gull picks it up in its beak and shakes it dead, two other gulls, a bright white one and a dirty grey one fight the hunter for its meal. They tear at the Rat, but the hunter makes off with the Rat in its mouth while its tail dangles out of its beak.

The woman with the grey sweatpants opens the door to her RV, a can falls out, she kicks it under the RV, then steps up, closes the door behind her.

I begin my route again heading to Northgate.

It’s a busy day, more people than usual for our “covid period”

I hear an older male voice talking to another passenger about what a great looking dog she has and is it ok to pet?

“Yes! Please do… he loves to say hi, they begin talking, her stop is next and she exits.

He starts talking to me about his dog.  A dog he lost 4 months ago,

She was the best dog in my life, tells me stories of how he got her at a rescue kennel when she was maybe 9 months old.  She always went to work with him at his Martial Arts Studio where he was a sensei.

They ran together, vacationed together and had a bond that the special pet of a lifetime gives you,  

He was hit by a car, it ended his career and he was homebound for an extended period of time.

“She was everything to me, she was home.”

He started crying, bawling, “I’m so sorry he said.”

Sir, I understand, let it out, its ok, I’ve had that special pet, I know what your going through. Its really ok,

“She saved me once, she didn’t have too”

How so?

“I was downtown, it was late, my back was turned on a group of guys, and one reached out to mug me with a knife.

Before I could knock him down,

She grabbed his arm then tore into him, he stabbed her down her side, she needed 25 stitches and almost didn’t make it.

She was so gentle to the vet, as she laid on the table, she licked his hand as he cleaned her, she was always so sweet, I had no idea she was a fighter until she did that.”

Wow, I said, she really sounds amazing to me,

At the next stop, his hand appeared under my covid clear plexi shield and showed me a picture of her, she was a beautiful brown and white, blue healer, sitting proudly next to her sensei.

He told me more about her, he cried some more, saying, he hadn’t cried since she passed and again, he was so sorry.

We arrived at his stop, he asked me, “do you mind if I step off the front, I don’t want people seeing me like this”……

Of course sir, take care of yourself,

He silently stepped off, he was older than I first thought, may have been 80, dressed in black, black baseball hat, dark sunglasses, his skin stark white, he looked smaller than his voice, he leaned on the brick building and was breathing deep as I pulled away.

It took me a few minutes to recover my breath,

I thought of my previous cat and how long it took to get over her.

I thought of Sheba, and how she greets me when I get home.

Laying on the floor, stretched out, belly open waiting for a gentle rub, her ears perked, her eyes gazing at me with praise that I am home again

And its time for a walk in the garden with her, sit listen to the birds,

Then time for her to receive her dinner.

I will be home.

Saturday 7:30 AM

Its grey changes slightly from

Its just before sunrise

The fog feels thick, dense,

Its grey changes slightly from the medium grey where it touches the ground to a hint of blue in what would be sky.

The Ground, dark grey, trees green-grey, streetlights not quite white orbs that glow with a mist showing small droplets moving at diagonals.

He is dressed in a blue down jacket, hood, ski pants, boots.

He rocks side to side as his legs take small steps.

In his arms are bags that hold the weight of all his belongings.

His dark silhouette emphasizes the smoke from his cigarette as it disappears as it mixes with the mist in the air.

He walks down the middle of the street, double yellow line under his feet.

There is no shadow behind, or beneath him, only the dark grey of pavement.

He walks under a light, its conical shape of mist triangles a sign of Shoreline Community College Everyone welcome here.

He walks past me, to a bus stop with a shelter bench, he places his bags on the ground

Sits, then lays on the bench, his legs from the knees bent, so his booted feet are on the ground.

He takes the cigarette from his mouth, holds it in his had as he breaths deep.

Brings his right forearm across his forehead.

The fog is getting lighter, less dense.

Sunrise is beginning.

Its time to start a new day.

A runner with her dog passes by

 her breath denser than the fog.

The sunrise brings her shadow.

A rumble of a diesel engine starting.

House on the Hill

She has a small pallet board homestead

She stands about 5′-2″—wind-blown Jet-Black hair. Dark skin, she Weighs maybe 90lbs. Because of her small size, her striking features, I think she might be South American. She wears jeans, plaid shirts, sometimes a black jacket over the shirt.
She has found a place behind Seahawk stadium, facing 4th avenue. Small empty green space, slight incline, a small tree to the north side of the clearing, small bushes on the street side.
She has built a small pallet board homestead. Shes lined her home with tarps, pieces of wood she has found.
The home sits on pallet boards as well. She steps up to the opening that is used as a door, pushing the tarp to one side, then steps in. Her place appears to be about 3 or 4 feet deep, 7 or 8 ft wide.
The area that she cleared for herself is clean. The grass is pulled, weeds are pulled. I have seen her collect garbage that blows its way into the area.
I have driven by in the mornings and have seen her sitting in front of her place eating. She uses a bowl and utensil. I begin to wonder where she has come from, how long she has been there. As the city has cleaned out other tent towns and homes over the last couple of years, she seems to have survived this, her house always clean, always separate from others, no one has moved into her territory. I have wondered why.

The small tree on her homestead is about 20 feet away from her door. She argues with it. I have seen her shake her fist at it. Break a branch, throw it on the ground. Then stomp to her house.
I have seen her stand at her property line, next to the street as cars and buses, trucks buzz past. She doesn’t seem to notice us. She stares past the hustle. Her dark eyes are busy with things on her mind. And She is busier than the street in front of her.
She looked my way last Sunday, I was hoping to see into her eyes, but we never connected there. She turned again to the tree, waved her arms, stomped to her door.
Behind her, lights of Century Link Stadium.

Somedays I wish for a Zombie Apocalypse. The good news though, Seahawks are 4-0

I have more than once heard: A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.

I’m going to rant a little bit.
I like my job. I find it interesting. It’s a job like no other if you’re a people watcher. It’s been said that bus drivers encounter more people than Presidents or the Pope on a weekly basis.
So, that is what gives me a license to rant.
Today, 3rd and Cherry, I have seen this man several times this past year. He sits in a provided manual basic wheelchair, the kind Hospitals give to people who need them just before they are sent back into the street or shelter.
He has no legs. He is far too skinny to look healthy.
He has one arm.
He struggles to use this chair. I have seen him trying to push the wheels forward. It’s, to say the least: Awkward.
Back to today. 2 pm. He sits on the street side of the sidewalk, facing uphill on 3rd and Cherry. His head is tilted to the side, his eyes vacant. His one arm dangles next to the wheel. He looks exhausted. He is in a dangerous place as a car speeds up the hill and misses him by a couple of feet.
I see a Prostitute that I have seen with him before. They have struck me as friends, not business. She is a blond, short polyester skirt, stained with street muck, white leather jacket; blond hair pulled back. White skin that is blotchy red, she is moving as quickly towards him as she can to help him.
My light turns green. I move south on 3rd ave.
I am repulsed by what I just saw.
A man with no legs. one arm living on the streets. His best friend, a drug-addicted Prostitute, who probably has a heart of gold. Nonetheless, her occupation creates a risk to her longevity, and her obvious drug addiction also creates risk.
Why do we allow this? Is this the best we can do?
I have more than once heard; A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.
The same trip, on 1st between Holgate and Lucile.
Another man has his sweatpants down to mid-thigh, his jockstrap is down too, he is scratching under his testicles, he sees me and tries to wave me down. He has a grin on his face, desperately tries to get me to stop.
I don’t stop; I can’t have that on my bus, I have people that I am responsible for their welfare and safety.
I drive down streets, where both sides of that street have homeless, drugged, handicapped mentally ill. These streets have garbage everywhere, decay, destruction as we build high-end high rises.

I’m a little angry at this point. I have to say, this kind of sequence of events is not outside the norm. This is the world we have built, and its no different in just about any big city across this country, and I’m sure other nations as well.
We are Irresponsible people.
I am one person; I fully admit that I do not have the money or resources to change anyone’s life. I simply have enough money to get by day to day and save a little for tomorrow and hope for the best. There is also only so many good deeds that I am capable of doing and still take care of my own life.
I recently saw the Walking Dead.
It’s a great series, not just for the acting, writing, effects, and eye candy. It’s great because of the portrayal of what happens when we don’t take care of each other.
The people in that series return to tribal status. They have found themselves with a group of people; they work for the better good. When they don’t, things predictably go wrong.
So, they bone up; they take care of each other the best way they can. It’s not always about being a better fighter, sometimes its intelligence, creativity, choosing to walk away, or learning to enjoy the moment. Every person has a place there; every person is important to their tribe.
We obviously do not do this.
We have the wealthiest nation on earth. We have the most powerful nation on earth.
We have a divided nation. The have’s are telling us, that there is nothing to be done to help the homeless, the poor, the disabled, the druggies. Nor can we afford to educate people. They say we can’t afford to help people that won’t help themselves. We cannot afford healthcare; it is not a right; it’s a privilege.
They think these people are lazy, unworthy.
They say this while the rich, the extremely rich get more tax breaks, broader control over the planet, more overall control over consumers. In other words, we spend our money foolishly on the wealthy.
We are a sick Nation, there are days I try my best in my own world to help the people around me, and I do these things selfishly because my world is better because of it. Then I feel better about my world.
I am a Seahawk fan. I am thrilled that they are now 4-0.
Isn’t it great that we have young millionaires playing a game. Owned by the super-rich who makes more money from people with enough money to buy tickets and merchandise to support this lifestyle.
( I say this knowing that so many of those players and teams do good things in their communities.)
Is this the best we can do?
Seriously, who would you rather talk to about life?
A football player, or a teacher, or a social worker. Who would give you the most wisdom regarding life?
I pull into a stop at Chinook street under the West Seattle bridge,
I lower the bus for an elderly man pushing his belongings in a rigged up cart of a dolly and plastic milk boxes.
It tips and spills his items out of the top milk box, some toilet paper, a half loaf of bread, a peanut butter jar, some clothing. He cusses. The 2nd milk box holds a pup tent. A young man with a skateboard who was waiting for his turn to board bends to help him. The old man starts to cry, and it’s obvious he is embarrassed; the young man gets things stacked again, pats him on the shoulder, then boards.
It’s about 230 pm.
I am pissed.
I have tears in my eye.
I drive slow to Avondale, where I take a left, head up a hill.
I am thinking a Zombie Apocalypse just might be deserved.
I am not kidding.

Orange Needle

Crows are present, they have found stops like these offer foods for the day, materials for nests, a reason for territory arguments

This August morning started with greys and mists, sun orange behind clouds the warm light casting mild shadows.

Its early enough the sounds of cars, traffic and people are still singular sounds, muffled by their distance. I am at a stop at 12th and Lane. This stop is often busy with human services and care, by this stop is a small tent city know for its drug use, crime.  Some are waking up, some are returning home, they are moving around, one lady makes her way to 12th, She doesn’t seem to know she’s on the street, nor does she see me, she drops her pants, her skin is blotchy, potted, she pees, then vacates her rectum a few yards in front of me.  She cleans herself with a towel she tosses to the sidewalk.  My door is open, I smell the garbage that’s littered, wrappers, beer cans, broken bottles, clothes. I can smell alcohol and the garbage in the air. A siren in the International district echoes between the buildings.

Crows are present, they have found stops like these offer foods for the day, materials for nests, a reason for territory arguments.

Two Crows look to be molting, they are skinnier than most, not a jet black, more of a light charcoal, feathers hang loose from their bodies unpreened,  their movements are quick, they seem angry, they have found an orange needle the kind that is handed out by the state, they are pecking it.  One goes to pick it up, the other pecks at its beak, the needle is dropped, the crows fight each other. Viscous, not normal territory squabble.

I had to ask myself, are they fighting over the needle for its drug?

They are rolling on the ground, talons out, pecking for eyes, one flutters away chased for a bit.

I close my door, continue south across the Rizal bridge,

I can see T Mobile Park lighted in Pink, in the distance behind, Puget Sound then the Olympic Mountain range rises above the park, its peaks are blue to white, to a soft glow of the yellow sun touching grey clouds.

The Bindweed

 

 

 

Seattle has two stadiums that sit on either side of a street in Seattle, not so much now a street as a walkway.

It is landscaped on one side, small perennials, ivy, juniper, bark dust

A Bindweed sends a vine through a small gap between bricks reaches towards the center of the sidewalk, its leaves uncurl, white trumpet flowers, the end of the vine is curled.

People step over, step next to it, occasionally step on it, through the weeks it continues to grow longer. I walk this area again; landscapers have cleared the vine.

Pine street has a walkway between 3rd and 4th.

Today a mid-30s man has stalled in his walk, one foot in front of the other as if in a normal walk, his jeans are muddy, shoes are dark, long coat, beard, long hair dark hair that hasn’t been washed in months. His arms are in a natural swing state but stationary, he is looking at the ground maybe 3 feet ahead of him. He looks like a freezeframe who’s next step is into the crosswalk. People pass him both on the left and right, some step around him glancing behind them, wondering if maybe his is a street performer.

My light turns green, he is to my right as I drive by him. I continue on my route to 2nd, south bound, then east bound back to Madison Park.  I layover for 20 mins, then head back to Pine street about 50 mins have gone by, he has now crossed the street is on my left, a few feet from the crosswalk, frozen, or moving incredibly slow.

The old woman who dresses in black, grey hair spraying out beneath her hoodie pushes her grocery cart of belongings around and past him.

My light turns green, I continue on my route to 2nd, south bound, then east bound back to Madison Park.  I layover for 20 mins, then head back to Pine street

15th and John

 

 

15th and John is a corner stop in front of one of Seattle’s major Hospitals, it’s a stop where you will find people in all stages of health.

Today a man I guess to be in his late 70s or early 80s, has a worn fleece vest over his hospital nightgown, his feet in socks, slippers, his white beard and hair contrast his dark skin, sunken eyes.  His arms have band aides that indicate recent I.V. and shots. His skin is blotchy, weakly, slowly, shaking as he climbs onto the bus, he hangs onto the hold bars as he finds a seat next to a window,  he holds a pizza and a bottle of something in a brown bag that he takes a long draw on after a bite of his pizza.  His gaze out the window seems long drawn, his mood melancholy.  I’m at a stop next to a small greenbelt, his hand is now on the window as he looks out, then he sits back wiping tears from his eyes.  He sits alone, and I have the feeling he feels alone and has been revealed to him his time is near and he left the Hospital abruptly leaving clothes in an effort to leave the situation behind him.

I wonder if I should call this in, what does one say when you only have a feeling.

We arrive at a stop downtown, there are homeless, bottles, broken glass boarded windows, graffiti of lives matter, old clothes laying about, dirty, wet from rain.  He carefully, weakly, shaking, leaves the bus and makes his way out through the crowd.

There is a tree there, who’s branch has been broken, hangs from its bark as its leaves are turning brown, one lets go in the breeze fluttering to the sidewalk.

Reptilians and a Guy with the day off

There are times when you ponder when we are still human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.

There are times when you ponder when we are still Human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.  I have partook in casual drugs in my life, and believe moderation and light use is part of the human experience, alcohol, weed, pretty mild stuff when enjoyed lightly, there are those that are more bold in their “exposure”

At the corner of 3rd and Pike, across the street from me, a young blond girl struggled walking with her 2 pair of shoes, her lace up heals wrapped around tight jeans, with the heals sideways dragging on the street to the outside of each foot wearing tennis shoes,  ever see that video of the husky wearing shoes?  This is how she moved. 

Behind her, an older man in at least his 70s, long hair and long beard, worn jeans that sagged, way down, whitey tidies……. He was bent forward with his butt against the building, rubbing it up and down, drooling.

The blond started to cross the street towards us, busses slowed and let her go, her movements were reptilian.  Think of the Chicken picking its way through the yard. She walked towards me, I looked into her eyes, it was disturbing how vacuous and empty those eyes were, a woman standing next to me gasped and moved behind me, the blond strutted by me, walked to the building behind put her hand on the wall, turned left and  continued up the street.  I had a chill from the encounter.

At Aurora and 105th I approach a stop light, there is a middle-aged man dressed in torn clothes, long blond hair and unshaven with a spotty beard.  He slowly spins with his arms stretched out wide, comes to the edge of the curb, steps back as he turns, comes around and steps onto 105th, a small Honda swerves left to miss him making the car in that lane stomp on his brakes, send the car behind him into my lane, missing my bike rack by inches.  The man freezes in the street as horns blare. He stares off in the distance unaffected and unaware of almost being hit, and the situation he caused.  A few weeks later he boards my bus at Northgate, pays his fare in coins and stares forward all the way to 3rd and Pine.  I saw no change of expression in his face. He stood up his face still forward as he walked past me and out the bus.  I did not watch to see where he went.

In Freemont, a Saturday afternoon I pick up a 20s something guy, wobbly drunk and openly friendly, says, “man, I don’t have any cash on me, beer is expensive” I smile and hand him a transfer. “Thanks man, I’m drunk … just sorta happened, kinda” a s he took a seat near the front. He burped loudly and said, “oh man, I’m sorry, this is kind of embarrassing” thinking of nothing else he could say, he blurted out “GO Hawks”!! the Bus was silent… he waited a moment,  then said, “Ok then, I get it, I’m drunk, how bout politics. Trump, sheesh, am I right”? silence, “I mean seriously, Jesus”! silence, then he said, “ok, pardon me, Love you guys”

An older gentleman was getting off the bus and leaned into me as he said, “you have an intoxicated young man there”  He seemed to expect me to do something about it, all I said was, Yes, I noticed.

The young man stepped off the bus in Ballard, thanked me for the ride, As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him go into a coffee shop.

Driving on Thanksgiving

Driving on Thanksgiving 

This was the first major Holiday that I drove for Metro.  I have been curious what it was like, other drivers have said they like driving the Holidays because its quiet, traffic is light and overall an easy day. 

I started Route 21 at Westlake Village at about 9 am.  There were no people to pick up, I continued on to my 4th stop, I picked up a woman, dressed nicely, black dress, hat, make up, high heels, as she paid her fare she wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, made her way  to about midpoint in the bus, then made herself comfortable.  She was my only passenger all the way into downtown.  

As we approached her stop, she walked up to me and said, you know, I almost called UBER, I chuckled at the comment and replied, “I’m glad you’re here, you gave my morning a reason.”  I hope you’re not driving all day and get to spend some time somewhere she said, “I drive till 4, then done I smiled.  Thanks for the ride, was very nice, Happy Thanksgiving” You too I said as she left. 

I picked up 3 homeless people at her stop, and 1 more dived into the back as the doors were closing.  Mostly, I have found the Homeless keep to themselves, today they went out of their way to wish myself and others a Happy Thanksgiving,  

There are several places that were providing meals today downtown, I stopped near those and dropped people off, picked people up.  I made my way north with just a handful of people, the gentleman that dived into the back was now stretched out on the back seat.  I drove through the Freemont neighborhood; the roads were very quiet.  I   continued to the Woodland park zoo and stopped to drop off a couple with a baby, the guy in back looked up, seemed confused leaped out the back as the doors closed.  I had no passengers to Shoreline Community College. 

I chuckled a bit. 

2nd trip back intown was about the same, easy driving, easy friendly people. 

3rd trip  back up North, I had 2 wheelchairs, both were people that I had before, 1 Just isn’t nice, I ignore his demeanor, and not try to chat with him, the other one, she likes to chat a bit much and I lose track where she is in the conversation. But what disturbs me is, she only wears a ill-fitting T shirt, very dirty, sweatpants, today she had socks, she rarely baths, but she is very nice. 

I stopped in Greenwood, drop them both off where they transfer to another bus, I pick up a guy dressed in a painters jump suit, ( white plastic) he is wearing green wooly socks no shoes, long beard, and crying, He is walking like his feet hurt and I ask if he needs some medical attention….. He sobs in his hands and yells how it’s all BS and he never took that stuff; he approaches my till and pulls out wads of cash and tries to find something less than 20s to pay his fare…. I hand him a transfer and said, this is on me today. He goes back to his seat and leans his head back and wails, wails…… loud sobs, I call this in, I’m concerned he may hurt himself, I try to communicate with him but can’t seem to connect, I stop just passed Holman road, he runs out.   

I sit a moment and gather my breath; the other passenger looks at me through the mirror and we both shake our heads.   

As she leaves a few stops later, she just says, wow. Take care. You too, thank you. 

My last trip was pretty slow, still not many people, the community kitchens had served their food, and the people from them with their left overs were sharing, making sure myself and others were offered Turkey, potatoes, pie, they were caring and communicating more than on other days.  

I found it pleasurable. 

The Blend

You can be anonymous here on the streets. People enter and leave the streets through Doors that open and close on buildings, cars and buses, reflections on windows trace their paths then blend to the others.

You can be anonymous here on the streets. People enter and leave the streets through Doors that open and close on buildings, cars and buses, reflections on windows trace their paths then blend to the others.  Telephones to their ears people are stretched between two places.  Sounds of engines, sirens, voices, smells of weed, popping corn, meat being cooked, garlic, coffee, surround the colors of  blurring vehicles, advertising, traffic lights, so much can distract and detach others from you, your presence no matter how you look, smell, or sound becomes subtle here, your usual impact, then retraction or compassion from others dissipates and you are accepted as part of the background. This is where you can be part of the parade, normal, unseen unaffected. 

I watch people, over time I see some enter the streets on what might be their first week or so, then begin to become street people, they change, its unavoidable.

A young woman maybe 20 something walks by with her sleeping bag, pillow rolled and wrapped with a bungee, bags and large purse is hanging from her arms. She say’s “pardon me” as she steps through the crowd.  She is attractive with her clear skin, long brown hair, her eyes are kind, I see one red mark on her forearm, and I hope the best for her.

I’m approached by a man who has been on the streets for what looks like decades, I have seen him before, long hair matted into filth and litter ridden dreadlocks, splotchy beard, long black overcoat over a torn and dirty t shirt.  He wears black sweatpants under his jeans that are at his ankles, tennis shoes, one blue, one somewhat white, no socks.  He mumbles incoherently but I keep an eye lock with him, I look for someone in there and I hope I can see him.  He mumbles, I wonder if he still has the ability to speak English, then he tells me “you fucking smell, your gross”.  “I look down at my belly and I say, yea, I have let myself go a bit” “You need to get a job” he tells me then stumbles off.

The following week I see the girl walk up the street asking for money, she has her sleeping bag over her shoulder, no pillow no other bags, just her purse. More marks on her arm and she stumbles on the building side of the crowd.

A young black man I have been watching, he attracted my attention because he wears a scarf in all weather, he is large, over 6’2” and closing in on 350lbs. He has an unkept afro, blue jean shorts, light jacket and red tee shirt, as he walks by I can see he has tumors that look like intestines hanging from his neck. His legs and arms have medical patches and there are red blotches on his skin.  He walks by, his eyes focused on something far ahead.  Several weeks go by and I am driving in the morning, I arrive at 3rd and Pike.  He is in a wheelchair now, I lower the ramp and bring him on, his smell is overwhelming, it’s not just body odor, his skin is rotting.  He wears the same scarf where the tumors now hang down farther, his coat is gone and his shirt is filthy  and torn. He has a video game in his hands and he’s bright, friendly, kid like with a huge smile as he says “damn, almost had it” ( to no one in particular)  I strap in his chair and see his legs now are bloated, red, painful looking, and the smell is taking over, I hold my breath and worry about the other passengers,  a woman sitting behind him discretely opens her purse and quietly sprays him with a very nice perfume. I continue up Pike Street and see the girl leaning her bare butt against a building, pants on the ground,  she finishes her pee and pulls wipes out of her bag and cleans herself. Her arms are pocked with red blotches. She doesn’t have her sleeping bag, her hair is a mess and people walking by pretend not to notice.

On the streets you  can an escape for for a while, it’s a place where we can lose ourselves amongst the colors, the sounds, the smells, our reflections on windows blend with others.