There was a very slight and shifty looking fellow frantically panhandling in the parking lot this morning. I watched with interest as many customers turned him away. “There has got to be an easier, softer way to make money,” was what I thought. “Less demeaning” I was gathering some carts when he stopped to talk to me.
“Are they going to run me off?” he asked, worried, seeing my Wal-Mart smock realizing I was an employee.
“The security guy will eventually,” I replied, warning him.
“Have you got five bucks I could have?” he pleaded. “I am trying to get up the money for a new battery for my car. I am stuck in the McDonald’s parking lot up the road.”
I pulled out my wallet and gave the man five bucks even though I knew the line about the battery was a farce. I’ve heard that very same line before. I wished him the best as he scurried into the store to do what I assume was to buy some beer. I realize most people who panhandle have addictions, but I felt it wasn’t my decision to decide if this man could have a drink or not. Too many times in my adult life I have been told by my father what I can and can’t do so I had some empathy for the fellow. I actually wanted him to be able to enjoy a few beers. I know that will be wildly unpopular, but that’s how I felt at the time this morning. Better to give him the money than for him to shoplift or steal to get the beer was what I thought.
I find these kinds of people fascinating. They are not the safety conscious milquetoast middle America that live boring lives. I call these people fringe dwellers just like George and the gang were – living on the fringes of society. That’s why I am so keen to become part of the “social club” that hangs out down at the convenience store drinking wine, smoking, and chatting every night. These people live colorful and vibrant lives that is also good fodder for the blog as far as tales go. I like to call it research as far as the journal is concerned. I want to chronicle these people’s lives in words for prosperity and interest. My experiences with them will also enrich my life I hope as I explore other lives, race relations, etc. And maybe I will learn a few lessons about life along the way as well. Like the adrenaline junkie who jumps out of airplanes to skydive, I find myself wanting to take chances and be aggressive with my life for a change. Far too long, I’ve sat at home scared of the world outside my front door – scared that my mental illness would flare and I would get in a mess. Better to flare than miss out on life as I have for years I have learned.
I find now that I am out of the house and working that I am meeting so many new people. There are so many social avenues opening up for me which a few weeks ago would make me shy away in social horror. Our Wal-Mart is a very, very big place full of customers and employees – lots of people talking and interacting. I had hopes with my ventures in Alcoholics Anonymous that I would have similar experiences, but I did not. Alcoholics are strange creatures – often loners. I found that you would have to attend meetings for months to be accepted into the club – as if to prove you are no longer drinking and are safe to befriend. So many people come and go out of those meeting halls it can be dizzying to form relationships in my experiences with the program.
Derrick and I have become great friends over the past two weeks. We both share a keen interest in all things electronic. I look forward to our daily chats about iPhones and LCD televisions to Blu-Ray players. All things I love and am keenly interested in.
Today, the ever androgynous Derrick asked me if I had seen Toy Story 3.
“I’ve never seen any of those movies,” I replied. “I found it hard to sit through a full length movie for years due to my stir craziness.”
“Oh, you would love them,” he said. “They’re not just for kids. Let’s rent 1 and 2 this weekend, grab a few beers, and watch them on my big screen television.”
“I would enjoy that,” I replied.
It felt so good to have a friend – to do what “normal” people do. To get together and watch movies. To talk of shared interests with a passion. I think my returning to work has been the best thing to happen to me in years. Who would have thought I would now have an average normal guy for a friend and a possible girlfriend? It is so exciting and invigorating! I would have never thought I could be social, but by facing my social anxieties, I am finding it easier every day.
The Agenda for the Afternoon…
I have decided not to buy that scooter much to my own chagrin. I just can’t justify spending $750 dollars on a motorized vehicle when I have a perfectly good and even more extremely economical mountain bike to travel to and from work with. It is about three miles to work and I think I can easily peddle that far if I leave on time every morning. The catch? Getting my years unused mountain bike back in service. It needs new tubes for the tires and I am hoping work will have them. I bought the bike at Wally World years ago with a savings bond that my then living grandmother gave me. So getting my bike back in action is part of the agenda for the day.
My benefactor has run out of things for me to do until he rents a power washer for me to wash his vinyl siding. I think I will hit the neighborhood once again “networking” to try and drum up some more regular customers for my yard care business. You will find me slowly toodling around the neighborhood this afternoon on my now quiet riding lawn mower. There were so many houses I tried last week where no one was seemingly at home. I will try them again today.