The number of homeless people in San Francisco is apparent everywhere you go. We live near a highway overpass, so I’ve grown to accept them as our neighbors. I say hello if we make eye contact and smile even if we don’t. They mind their business and I focus on mine. Life goes on. At least until it rains.
Sunday morning it was absolutely pouring. Gutters were overflowing with pools of water and garbage. Woody and I left our cozy confines to run outside for a quick bathroom break. He didn’t want to be out there and neither did I. He squatted and I scanned the area from the middle of the steep hill that leads to our place.
I noticed a guy digging through one of the trash bins a few doors down. Woody zeroed in on him as well as he leaned into one of the cans and lost his balance. This led to an urban avalanche. With the trash, recycling and compost bins all chained together, they all fell at once into a precarious stack. One misstep had toppled three containers, instead of one.
“Motherfuck you people!”
The guy yelled up toward the apartments after inching his way out of the mess.
Standing there in the rain thinking about his life, I felt rotten about 1000 different things all at once. I wondered if there was anything I could do that would make his day better in any way at all. And like any lame civilian, I decided it was best to just leave the situation alone. We inched our way back up the hill and cursed the rain. We took cover in our comfortable home.
An hour later, the the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Woody and I headed back outside for a real walk. On the way down the hill, we passed the triple stack bin situation and I wondered if the homeless guy we’d been watching earlier was perched somewhere nearby watching us.