9 miles from home the seat snaps off my bike. Now my trusty joshy-powered vehicle has become an angry implement of jagged auto-sodomy.
So this put me in a particular mood, you could call it a BAD mood. It didn’t feel bad, it just felt reasonable, justified. I feel petulant and hungry so I chain my bike up to the McDonalds inside the Bremerton ferry terminal. I just need a double cheese burger so I can think about what I want to eat. The instant fat and protein and sugar that a greasy two stack promises is exactly what I convince myself I need.
Outside I am sideswiped by a pan handler, endemic to all McDonalds in Seattle, as far as I can tell. He is an unwashed, tired looking black man that has an air of innocent bewilderment that I find uncomfortable. He stares too hard. I reach into my pocket and drop 57 cents into his palm, he glances down at the change and takes a step forward,
“I need 2 dollars. I just need 2 dollars to get some food and get home. Can you give me two dollars?”
The change sits in his outstretched palm.
“How about, ‘thank you’? How about ‘thanks for stopping and not ignoring me like most people on this sidewalk’? Back up, get out of my face! Ungrateful…stupid…back up!”
He was in my face, staring at me, telling me ‘2 more dollars’. I start railing in mind about the deplorable manners of the homeless population.
“Good luck.” I said but he just took a tiny step back as I opened my messenger bag and started looking for my keys to liberate my pathetic bike. The homeless man watches me like I am digging for his salvation. I wish he would just go away and die somewhere, not now, of course, but at that moment, riffling for my keys, feeling trapped, kneeling on the sidewalk with half a burger in my hand, I wanted nothing more than the man that needed 2 dollars to cease to exist.
“I need food. Nourishment …”
“Fuck off! I can’t help you. You’re welcome, by the way…!”
The keys tinkled in my finger tips and I jammed them into the bike lock and turned. Too hard. The little key breaks in two, half lodged in the lock. My breath catches.
His back is to me, walking North.
“Tell you what…”
I flick my wallet out and peel off a few ones.
I don’t know if it is for my salvation, my karma and conscience, or for his empty stomach.
If it matters to me, it doesn’t matter to him.