Back in San Fran, city dwellers generally have “their people” as in Yeah, I haven’t seen my homeless guy on the steps lately. I wonder if he checked into detox or overdosed OR I brought a few blankets to my corner lady because she said her cardboard box isn’t enough of a wind barrier at night.
You learn to accept homeless drug addicts as neighbors and as such they gain human faces, stories and personas. In other words, they become neighbors just like the indoor clean people and before you know it, you’re caring and noticing when they’re not around.
In Holy Land Central (HLC), I’ve found “a person”. He’s definitely too well groomed and pasty white to be spending much outdoor time on the homeless track and I can’t call him “mine” because he doesn’t hang outside my walk-up but he’s certainly a fixture. He’s “the supermarket guy”, shared by all shoppers simultaneously.
The supermarket guy walks around the Hyper-Kol (a smaller version of Safeway or Kroger’s), reciting facts in such high volume that you can hear his monotone, booming voice cutting through the din clear across to the frozen dessert section.
“Meggido Junction, June 5th, 2002. Fatal bus bombing. 14 killed.” “Tel Aviv, January 19th, 1991. 3 Scud Missiles launched from Iraq. 17 wounded.” “Nahariya, July 15th, 1981. Heavy shelling from Lebanon. 3 killed.”
..and on and on he drones, citing war campaigns, hijackings, infiltrations, hostage-takings and any other Israel-related tragedy he can summon..
To say it’s unnerving is like saying it’s a tad warm here in the summer. It grates and is so chilling you just want Mr. Supermarket to shut up or get kicked out or something. But management puts up with him just like we used to put up with our odiferous street people back in SF because he and they have a right to be there and after the uncomfortability of the stench or the drone passes, compassion creeps in.
The supermarket guy can’t help himself. I figure that somewhere in the recesses of his mind, his reel-to-reel got caught in a loop and can’t stop so the only way he can purge the playback from his head is to recite it aloud. And THAT you have to feel for and wonder which of those campaigns was his.