Tag Archives: getting by

If the shoe fits.

My early-morning San Francisco dog walks involve a fair number of encounters with homeless neighbors. I try to keep Woody from disturbing folks sleeping along the sidewalk and I encourage anyone looking for canine companionship to pet the anxious four-legged love monster known as Woody.

As you might expect, living among the destitute, we encounter a number of people who have resorted to digging through the trash for food scraps, cigarette butts and life’s other necessities. While I generally try to avert my gaze, Woody is usually enticed by the smell and the activity. This past Monday, his curious nature overtook my lazy wandering and he pulled me toward a friendly-looking homeless guy that often sleeps in the doorway across from our apartment.

“Good morning,” I said, struggling to get Woody back on track.

“He’s a strong little guy,” the guy responded, pulling a pair of women’s shoes from the bin. “They’re too small for me…but maybe there’s a lady in your life who could use them?” he said passing them my direction.

I assured him that we didn’t need the shoes and he tossed them back in the bin.

“It’s strange…this city…” he said, looking up toward Coit Tower, “There’s so much wealth and generosity. It’s not so bad out here when affluence breeds kindness, you know?”

I was following, but didn’t really know how to respond. I probably said something stupid about having a good day and Woody and I went on our way. I was glad to know that he’s getting by—with an ample supply of what he needs and a few things he doesn’t.


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Not so criminal.

The security alarm began blaring as I sifted through a bin filled with mildly abused apples at the local Safeway. The security guard was barely fazed as he walked slowly toward the emergency exit door left slightly ajar.

“Happens all the time,” he mumbled, pulling the door closed and deactivating the alarm.

Everyone in the produce department went on about their business—ruffling lettuce leaves, massaging grapefruit and plucking stray bananas from their bundled bunches

Fairly certain no one was going chase the perpetrator down the street, I made my way toward the express lane. The checker offered a mostly genuine, “howya doing?”

“Big heist today?” I said, nodding toward the emergency exit.

“Pardon?” she replied.

“The alarm? Someone ran off with a bunch of stuff,” I explained.

Punching in the code for abused apples, she responded with a slight smile, “I don’t even hear that thing anymore…it happens so often, I just block it out.”

The notion of people having to steal food made me feel rotten. But the fact that no one at the store seems to strictly enforce the rules left me wondering if there might be more empathy out in the world than I’d originally thought.

The jury’s still out on that one.

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