Lured by recent spasms of spring weather, the street people, like the swallows coming back to Capistrano, are emerging from their winter dwelling places.
It’s not easy for me to ignore their outstretched hands.
We need to remember that behind every face is a life story revealing how they arrived at this desperate chapter in their lives.
Some years ago, on the downtown mall, I was hit up for a handout. Thinking I might get a column from the fellow in exchange for my 85 cents in pocket change, I sat down beside him on the ledge of a flower bed and began popping questions.
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“Look, mister,” he interrupted, “If you think you’re gonna get my life story for 85 cents, you’re crazy!”
On another occasion, a robust young man, a picture of health, approached me in a fast food restaurant and asked for financial aid. The odor of whiskey permeated the air. When a friend with me suggested that he seek employment, he lost his cool.
“I’m no bum, sir!” he said indignantly. “I’m a paint and body man. I’m just outta work. I’ll have you know I served my country! Two years in Vietnam!”
“Let me tell you something,” he added. “Everybody’s a beggar. Everybody begs for something: good health, sex, food, love. Especially love. Everybody in the world is going around begging for love.”
Sometimes responding to those outstretched hands can yield nuggets of unforgettable truths.
Although our computers are supposed to sift through incoming e-mail and toss unsolicited detritus into the spam basket, a lot of the chaff gets through anyway. The variety seems endless.
Amanda recently informed me that pothole damage will cost U.S. drivers approximately $3 billion this year in vehicle repairs. She insists it’s my duty to educate my readers on how to protect against pothole damage.
She will be happy to put me in touch with a local expert who can acquaint me with necessary precautions to take when hitting a pothole is inevitable.
Although our lives are full of “experts” on everything from halitosis to hemorrhoids, I’m reminded of an irreverent childhood definition of an “expert” as an “out-of-town idiot with a briefcase.”
Rocky Mount author Mae Woods Bell once wrote an ode to potholes:
If you’re annoyed by potholes,
Relax and look at it this way
They’re one of the few things
on the road
Still made in the USA.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep an eye out for potholes, which are relatively scarce in Raleigh, thanks to our efficient municipal and state pothole physicians.
The battery in the “squirrel proof” bird feeder needed re-charging. A squirrel perched on the feeding ring, greedily gulping down sunflower seed and ignoring my tapping on the dining room window.
My wife rushed out on the screened porch and yelled at the top of her voice, “Get out of here! I’m sick and tired of you! So go! Go now!”
“Please,” I pleaded upon her return. “Don’t do that! The neighbors will think you’re talking to me and before we know it, a marriage counselor will be knocking on our door.”
This is the first time in my long and mostly happy life that I can remember a political campaign so foul-mouthed that parents need to send the children out of the room before tuning in to the political rhetoric being spewed forth from the TV channels.
My most unforgettable sports pages headline: Mother of seven hits hole in one.
Snow: 919-836-5636; firstname.lastname@example.org