Jonathan Vs. The Homeless

A couple of weeks ago, September 6, to be specific, I was working at the National Retail Federation in Northwest D.C. I found the job through a temp agency and it was only a week long assignment. My job was to call employees that worked for various companies and remind them to register for a summit on Internet commerce in October which is going to be taking place in New York at the Hilton. For the most part I left messages with most of the employees and my supervisor, Victoria something, told me that us temps, there were two others working there for the week too, were expected to make 20 to 25 calls an hour. After briefing me on what to say and questions that I might get, Victoria showed me to my work area, gave me my call sheet, and chucked the deuces, meaning she said goodbye and left me to my work for those unfamiliar with current slang. After my first day of making phone calls for 7 hours I pretty much thought that eventually I would lose my already tenuous grip on sanity and throw my frail and weary bones out of one of the 11th floor windows, each of which had breathtaking views of buildings with offices virtually identical to the one I was slowly beginning to lose my mind in.

After coming home from my first day I began to realize that I am, in fact poor, and that I was being paid 14 dollars an hour to make phone calls so the choice pretty much boiled down to sanity or homelessness, which is odd because I was always of the opinion that where one of these conditions exist the other is not to far off.

Ham fisted segue aside, on my way to the building the second day, a homeless man asked me If I had any change that I could spare. I told the unfortunate soul that all I had to my name was money for the parking meter, which I would later discover at the end of the day I would not actually need since my car had been ticketed and towed away. To be specific though I believe what I said was something more along the lines of, “hey bruh I need some change my damn self for parking.” Perhaps it was my poor choice of words which brought about the actions of both myself, and said hobo subsequently after . Preparing to turn away from the conversation the man held out a quarter in the palm of his hand and said, I think as much to me as everybody else who either refused to acknowledge his very existence or just flat-out said no “you think I give a f*** about this g**damn change” and held it out as if he were going to give it to me. As I was reaching out to take money from this man who had fell upon hard times, because I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, he dropped it onto ground and started to walk away. Now I have had some pretty low moments in my life but I did not want to add picking up change thrown onto the ground by a hobo to the long and embarrassing list, though I was tempted. Muttering to myself “screw that” as I began to walk away, the man looked back and saw that I left his change on the ground, which only served to upset the already disgruntled, “residentially challenged” individual. Though I do not remember exactly how we got to talking again I do recall him asking why I did not take his offering to which I replied “I’m not taking anything that someone has thrown on the ground.” My pride and agitation only seemed to fuel his hobo rage which, I believe, distorted his interpretation of what happened seconds prior, with him adamantly, and angrily, saying that he did no such thing and me saying back, before I had a chance to truly think about what I was doing, “then how the hell did it end up on the ground?” His response of “you all always f*****g with black man” caught me a little off guard, for obvious reasons and truly left me at a loss for words. Realizing that I was going to be late for work and that no good can come of the situation if I stick around any longer I just walked away all while being told by the man the many different ways he was going to whip my ass. About two hours later this very man and myself were smoking cigarettes on the street corner of the building I was working in were apologizing to one another for our behavior and talking about how he ended up on the street, he says some girl he was involved with pretty much brought it about. As we were saying our goodbyes, since I was going off to feed the meter, he asked if I had anything I could spare.

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