Posts Tagged ‘Homeless’

As I had a meeting downtown on the west side, I took the opportunity to check out a couple of liquor stores in the vicinity but once again came up empty handed.  Maybe I need to figure out another tack and try tracking down the elusive Old Monk distributor.  I was walking back home with this thought brewing in my head when I heard someone say “Excuse me Sir.” I was stopped in the middle of a two way street on one of those little pedestrian islands.  At first I ignored it but as the voice persisted and got louder I glanced around to see that the other two people waiting for the light to change were women, so clearly the voice sought me.  This was one of those NY islands that had benches and a sculpture and greenery around it, so it took me a brief second to spot the rather portly gentleman sitting on the bench, slightly obscured by the shrubbery, bellowing at me.

He was wearing jeans which were rolled up above his ankles, with a makeshift belt made of what looked like plastic bags tied together holding them up and a black t-shirt neatly tucked in.  Next to him on the bench was a black carry on size suitcase and to his right was something that resembled a briefcase surrounded by a large number of plastic bags loaded with stuff.  He must have been in his late fifties; he wore a pair of large framed glasses, the kind my grandfather used to wear, had short cropped hair and sported a bandanna.  As I looked him in the eye, he said “do you see the school truck over there,” pointing across the street.  I looked over and did not see a school truck but spotted an ice cream van, which I assumed was what he meant.  I acknowledged.  He said, “would you mind going over and getting me a bottle of Pepsi? I will give you some money.” I agreed.  He then proceeded to dig into one of the myriad plastic bags beside him and pulled out a brown paper bag.  From this bag he extracted a handful of change. I saw many pennies, nickels, dimes and thankfully a few quarters.  He proceeded to count starting with about three quarters and then rounding off the dollar with nickels and dimes.  As he was doing this he asked me how much a bottle of Pepsi would cost.  I have no idea I said and he did not either.  So we assumed it would be a buck or buck fifty.  As he handed me the change, I turned and started to cross the street. I was halfway across when I heard him shout out “Actually sir, would you mind getting me two bottles of Pepsi.  And I want the kind that come in bottles; you know them plastic one’s.” I stopped and turned back.  He once again started to count and handed me another $1.50 asking if it would be enough for two bottles.  I said I imagined it would be.

The ice-cream truck only had ice-cream, strangely enough.  Luckily I spotted a hot dog cart on the opposite side and ran over to ask the man if he had some Pepsi.  When he paused, I thought crap now I am going to have to run over to Fairway which is at least a couple of blocks from here and the guy is going to think I am running off with his three dollars.  I could not think anything more embarrassing than being arrested for stealing from a homeless man.  The cart man said he was out of Pepsi but had some Coke.  I looked over to try and get the homeless man’s attention but his back was turned to me.  So I decided to take them and hope this man was not brand loyal.  The total cost was $4; I guess it’s been a while since I bought a bottle of Coke or Pepsi.

I brought back the bottles and handed them to him explaining that the guy was out of Pepsi, so I got Coke instead.  He did not seem bothered and asked me if they cost a $1 each or more.  I told him they were $2 apiece and quickly added that I was happy to cover the difference.  But before I could finish he said, “I guess I owe you another dollar then.” Again I repeated that he did not.  I told him he was welcome, shook his outstretched hand and started to leave when I heard him say, “Hey, wait a minute, there are no napkins in here.” I looked at him like he must be joking but he gestured to the Sun and said, “Hot day, need something to wipe off you know…would you mind?” I said OK and ran back over to the cart and came back with a handful of napkins.  As I handed them over to him, he once again thanked me and looked like he was about to ask me for something else but this time I gave him a look that said it all.  He stopped short and simply said, “Have a great day and thank you again.”