Published October 15, 2012 by Sandee

“Frank!” I screamed.  He was back at the benches by the historical house in his wheelchair with his entourage.  He’s been missing lately.  He slurred, “Hello my beauty,” on his way to smashed.  Once I saw him spoon with another male bum on the sidewalk.  Today I wanted to give him my change from Rite Aid crumpled in my hand, but it wouldn’t have been fair to the others.

I don’t care for the one with the dreads.  Once he stood by McDonald’s menacing people.  I glared at him, ready.  He backed off.  Days later he stood in the center of the sidewalk by the historical house, facing me.  He looked at me and took his dick out.  He let it hang for a second before taking a piss by the wall.

On my way to work he’s usually sleeping.  He surprised me with a mellifluous “Hello” one morning.  He was sitting up, looking at me with doe eyes, smiling.  I didn’t even know he could speak using regular words.  War’s over I suppose.

Frank shares food and liquor with him.  I give Frank food they give us from the café where I work.  Once he was passed out drunk.  I woke him to tell him I had food.  He nodded, grabbed the bag and said thank you.  I didn’t think it registered, but the next day, he said, “Thanks for the food my beauty.  That sandwich was delicious!”  He said he shared the food with his friends.  He went on about how good the sandwich was.

Some are dirty and sick-looking.  One was just a head in a wheelchair.  Well, he had no legs and barely a torso.  He’d perch in front of the subway stairs.  I gasped from shock when I saw him.

The one that held the Dunkin Donuts door open for people moved to the next block. He was a sanitary hazard, filthy but friendly.  He’s eyes are always red.  Generally he just says hi how you doing but once he said, “You know you my baby girl.”  I said, “Really?  Give me some money then.”

There’s a married couple.  I don’t like them.  They live on the bench by the park and in a busted car.  I’ll tell you about them another time because they deserve a whole post.


36 comments on “Bums

  • You meet local folk and that makes you very fortunate indeed..
    “Thanks for the food my beauty. That sandwich was delicious!”– best compliment anyone can give you that day 🙂

  • Such a slice of life. You have the opportunity to process their existence every time you see them. It’s a real perspective scrambler, isn’t it. It’s hard to see your life as lacking when you’ve got these peeps all around you.
    Your kind gesture did not go unnoticed, Sandee, that much I know. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

  • We have a gentleman that I call “pretty lady” because he always says that to female passersby. He gave Little One a stuffed animal once. Little One sleeps with it every night. I miss him and worry about him when he’s not around. I love this post.

  • You’ve got some pretty friendly bums in your neighborhood. I see a few around here, but I’m not usually near enough to do much for them. Half the people asking for money around here aren’t homeless, but they can’t be all right in the head if begging is a career option. I’m glad your bums have you to help them out.

  • I love it when you write about the people you see at work or in your neighborhood, Sandee. And your writing takes on a different flavor with these pieces–not better or worse than your other writings, just different. But very powerful. You’re a very kind soul, my friend. And I love how you told the guy “Then you give ME some money.”

  • I’m sure Frank has no idea that he’s eating $24 sandwiches. He might go into business selling them.
    For a while here there were these gypsy guys who would hobble up to your car on one foot and the other ankle begging for money. They lived in caravans and were eventually kicked out. All of the smallest change they collected covered the ground around their campsite. (then again when I was a teenager I loved to vacuum up pennies.) Those guys were not actually handicapped at all. They practiced limping along like that.

    Can’t fake an amputation though.


  • I like the term “bums,” which, although it has gone out of fashion thanks to the softening of language, isn’t all that harsh a term.

    I live in a smallish tourist town, and a few of our homeless people are townies. We occasionally get the sketchy kind, but they’re usually not encouraged to stay (it is a tourist town, after all). We have one guy who mostly minds his own business, but I think is mentally ill–he can become terrifying pretty quickly.

    I await your tales of the married couple…

  • I guess the alternative to bums would be domestically challenged?

    New York City is a bummy town! I could tell you tales of bums, beggars and vagabonds for days…

    But seriously a lot of the homeless unfortunately are mentally ill. We had a flood of homeless when they started letting people out of the institutions.

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