Saturday, July 02, 2005

how ungrateful the grateful should be

i went to my local laundromat to wash my clothes. i live in a nice enough neighborhood in the sf, so i usually just wash or dry and leave it to do some chores and then return to pick it up. of course, there are homeless around, but i live in the sf, so it comes with the territory.

i've been doing this for two years. no problems.

today i tossed my clothes into the dryer (as a matter of fact, i threw them with great velocity from the washer into the dryer. it's stupid, but it's what i do). i put in my six quarters. i set it on medium heat. i left my laundry bag on a shelf. and as i was leaving, i was stopped my a drunk homeless gentleman sitting in a chair inside the laundromat.

"hey, man, where you from?" he garbled.

" york."

"oh, right on, right on, i'm from anchorage, right on. hey, i'm on my way...goin' to on a wife, she's a drinker...behind the woods....goin' to seattle..." (you know, the same ol' same ol').

this was his pitch. it was written in jack daniels.

i usually don't give any money (because i know where it's going), but i have a dilemma: this man is homeless, and he's currently taking residence in the same place as my clothes. i want to leave them as they tumble dry so i can do my chores. i don't want to sit here and talk to this man, who can barely make any sense with his business pitch.

so i gave him a dollar. not only to get him to leave me alone but also, and much more importantly and for the one thing left unsaid, for him not to piss in my laundry.

and he gave me a dirty look, as if this dollar wasn't good enough.

but seriously, what was he expecting, and isn't a $1 enough to ensure that my laundry wouldn't get peed on? i surely wasn't giving it to him out of sympathy. he didn't even give me a good pitch. the business proposition was completely clear.

in fact, if i were to have drawn up a receipt, it would have said:

payer: steve
recipient: homeless man
services rendered: not peeing on laundry
amount: $1

i returned forty minutes later, clothes unpeed upon. dollar well spent. i nodded to my homeless friend for a job well done.

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