En route to swimming lessons we drive through an area of town that may have the most intersections and stoplights within one square mile of the city. Invariably there are a lot of cars lined up in every direction. Other than the fact that all of these streets converge in a confusing manner, it's a prime location for people carrying cardboard signs, looking for a little help in tough times.
Yesterday was swimming lesson day. We pulled behind three other cars, stopped and waited for the light to turn green. I noticed a man seated, with a sign, on the right hand side of the intersection. Life had folded his skin rather than creased it. His limbs were long and strong. Dead eyes looked down and around heavy lids, barely up and over the sign he held in his lap. His appearance moved me. I found him courageous.
Nate sits on the right side of the car, and was staring in the direction of the man. This seemed a better time to discuss homelessness than the opportunity we had a few days ago on the Ventura Pier with the batshit crazy drunken loon of a woman lunging toward us screaming, "Hey, where'd you get that kid?? I need to get me one of those!" I'm quite a bit less compassionate when the crazy is unpredictable, scary, and forty feet above waves crashing on rocks...
The light changed and I asked Nate, "What do you think of that guy?"
"I think I can't read his sign."
We traveled passed the man and through the intersection.
"Mom, how does he think he's going to get any money if we can't read his sign? All I can see is 'Need', plus it's all bent up and he's not even pointing it in the right direction."
Hmmm, sorry I asked. A wise woman would ferme la bouche..."It looks like maybe he's had a hard life."
"No, I think he just wants our money."
"Maybe he's having a tough time right now and could use some help."
"No, he looks fine to me; you don't have to worry about him Mom, it's just a jip."
"A jip. He's just trying to jip everyone out of their money so he doesn't have to get a job and actually earn money. He just takes everyone elses."
"I see." Thankfully we were almost to the pool, but not soon enough.
"Mom, the problem with that is that when I get older I think that I may not be very healthy and then no one will give me any money when I ask for it because those guys who actually should get a job are taking all the money and tricking everyone when actually, I will be the one needing the money."