It was very interesting, the young man sitting on the walking-chair in front of the GeeKwick with the barbed wire forehead tat. Of course by "young" is meant forty-something, and by "interesting", heart-rending.
Head nodding, mumbling to himself, quite at peace with his surroundings, his bag was laying across the sidewalk. Beside him, on the lid of the big concrete refuse container by its built-in ashtray were his pack of cigarettes, lighter squared away on top, and a beverage in a twisted brown sack. All up and down the strip mall workers were leaning out of doors to keep an eye on what was happening. On the patio extending into the parking lot of the pizza shop next door, the two most immediately concerned conferred.
We GeeKwickers are all much the same; I couldn't resist. I went over to eavesdrop, and as I passed said, "Sir, is this your bag? Would you like me to pick it up for you?" And as I picked it up at that point, I realized it was a jacket and not a bag. I carefully placed it on the five-gallon plastic bucket pulled in close by him, and said "I'll just put this where you can reach it." One does look for opportunities to be helpful.
Somewhere in his mumbles I clearly made out "thank you", and I was satisfied to say "you're welcome" and move on, since a cop had arrived and was moseying closer. It seemed the man was fairly responsive and somewhat lucid, and not in any visible distress. And I couldn't smell booze, which I'm very sensitive too, so my interest was waning. But three times in the past six weeks, to my knowledge, police, firetrucks, and EMTs had been on that corner responding to approximately the same situation. I was quite alert to get a close-up view, and now I had. A man and his bucket (and obscure drink, and walking-aid, and forehead tatoo) was simply chillaxing in the shade of a sunny summer's day.
I stood outside the GK a bit longer, smoking. Manager Joe leaned out the door, and after a bit I noticed that he and a second cop and the other managers were all standing around the man, who now seemed quite talkative.
I left, and went across the street to wait for a bus. A few minutes later, Mr. Walking-chair emerged from the stream of passers-by and halted at a nearby entrance to a store. It was hot in the sun, and the bus shelter on the other side of the driveway was shaded by trees, cool and inviting. The green people live among the trees, and I never go there. But I could see that's where he wanted to be.
I could see him studying the hazards of the ground, the timing of the ebb and flow of wheelers and walkers. Finally, he made a dash for it. And when I got on the bus, he was sitting over there by a tree, on his chair, where he wanted to be: a man and his bucket.