Thursday, April 25, 2013

Very Vehement Vagrants

For the four years I went to UCSD, I didn't have a car. I only lived on campus for one of those years. After I moved off campus, I took the bus everywhere. I had a few scary moments, some humorous moments and some strange moments. The two weirdest moments I had while taking the bus involved homeless people. The first one was on the bus, and the other while waiting at the bus stop.

Homeless guy story #1
One dark evening, I was on my way home after a long day at college, and another college student was sitting next to me near the front of the bus, in the seats that face toward the middle. She made a comment about something, and we began discussing our day. I was happy to possibly be making a new friend.

At the next stop, a homeless man got on the bus and sat by himself in the first set of seats facing forward, so he was looking at me from the side. There was one empty seat facing toward the middle between us.

It's hard to describe the smell. It was pretty much the worst thing I've smelled in my life. This guy smelled worse than a garbage dump. I don't know what was wrong with him, but he smelled as if he did all his business right in his pants, and never changed out of them at all, for years. I mean, it was an incredibly foul smell. And he wore about five layers of clothing, despite the fairly warm weather.

by Flickr user Joshua Putnam
The woman sitting next to me was way too obvious in her disgust. I could feel the homeless man's anger as he stared at us, seeing my new friend hold her nose and say, "Peeewww, grooooooosssss!!" I kept trying to shoot her a look, and even nudged her and shook my head slightly for her to stop, but it was too late. The guy got up angrily, flung his coat in my face, and sat right next to me.

My new "friend" finally shut her stupid mouth. I was a bit angry with her at this point, for not taking any cues. I know I can't blame her too much. Some people just don't understand social cues. But at the time, I was sort of upset, and just wanted to get home so I could wash my entire face with soap. That is exactly what I did when I got off the bus: I ran as fast as I could, all the way to my bathroom, and washed my mouth out (his clothing touched my mouth), washed my face, and took a shower.

Homeless guy story #2
One morning, I was sitting at the bus stop with other college students, waiting for the bus to get to our morning classes. A homeless man walked up, and stood around for awhile, staring at us. Thankfully, this man did not smell bad.

by Flickr user Senia L
He walked back and forth a few times until he finally decided to take a stand against "learning." He focused all of his anger at a poor little guy who was clearly the softest target of the bunch. He accused him of thinking he was wise because of his schooling, but in fact, had no idea what wisdom was. He claimed that wisdom only comes with age, and that he didn't know anything about life.

This homeless man claimed to have all the wisdom that comes with living for a long time on the streets. Clearly, harassing students who are trying to learn how to make a career for themselves creates great wisdom indeed.

He was so wise, in fact, that he decided to pull the kid's UCSD cap off his head, and throw it in the middle of the street. In his great wisdom, he saw the error of his ways, and walked slowly into the middle of traffic. With all his wisdom, he knew the cars wouldn't simply run him over, despite their screeching and honking horns.

When he brought the cap back, however, he must have forgotten why he had gone to retrieve it in the first place. I guess wisdom can be forgetful. He sort of wondered in circles, seeming to wonder why he was even holding a cap. When the original owner of the cap tried to grab it back, the homeless man yanked it away. He seemed to think the cap belonged to him now. So he put on his shiny new UCSD cap, freshly stolen and thrashed by automobiles, and walked away.

10 comments:

  1. The lost souls provide such lessons for the rest of society.

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    1. They do. You learn so much from a variety of people, in general. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. What is UCSD? My only guess is that it's San Diego, but I'm not sure that's correct.

    Homeless people can be very interesting. Especially in CA.

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    1. Yes, UC San Diego. Not to be confused with San Diego State, the party college. UCSD was basically the opposite of a party college. :)

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  3. I used to see lots of interesting people when I worked at a coffee chop. It's true, some people miss basic social cues!

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    1. They do. Sometimes you have to help them out a bit. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Your first story actually makes me sad. He probably was well aware of his odor, but didn't have access to clean clothes, a shower, etc. like most of us do. I hope he was able to get to a shelter and receive some assistance. ~Angela, Whole Foods Living, http://www.wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/

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  5. Years of living on the streets can mess with one's mind. It's a sad state indeed. I guess this man needed the hat more than your friend. We sometimes see beggars standing under a highway overpass. One day, my son and I bought a $1.50 Costco's hot dog and drink and handed it to a thin man. He looked at me with hollow eyes, said, "God bless you," and acted like I'd given him gold. It was an amazing experience that I'd love to repeat one day.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2013/04/atoz-x-for-expelling-gas.html

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  6. I can imagine that you would have liked to throttle the girl on the bus for being so ignorant. Of course it smells bad, but it isn't like the guy could help it. Homelessness is such a unnecessary problem in our country.

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  7. One must have patience with the homeless. Living in Chicago I see them on every street and every where I walk. There are so many, it's sad really.

    Most smile and have a kind word, but the others, the ones who are truly disturbed can be belligerent. This is where our patience needs to be on high alert.

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