Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Money Makes the World Fall Down

Money doesn't mean anything. Not even to a homeless man. 

There is a large, organic grocery store in the heart of Silver Lake. You can’t buy anything there for fewer than five dollars. It takes bourgeois food to the next level. Whenever I go there to buy groceries for my boss, I see at least one “celebrity” or someone trying to imitate that lifestyle. Welcome to Los Angeles.

Outside of this haven of gluten-free-all-natural-organic-fair-trade wonderland, is a homeless man and his shopping cart. He is there every day, limping from one side of the parking lot to the other, and back, dragging his trash bags and plastic bottles along in his rickety cart. He mumbles to himself, toothless, and tugs at his straggly beard that is surely infested with some kind of insect.

All in all, it is more than apparent that the man is not mentally and physically well. He doesn’t speak to people or ask for anything, he just yells random words at whoever casts a shadow upon him. I smile and say “Hi,” or “Good Morning,” but always receive the empty answer of a growl, or cheery days, a chuckle. Eventually, an employee will tell him to leave and he shuffles along to the other side of the road to loiter at the gas station.

On this particular day, he lingered by the trash bin playing with the cigarette butts in the ashtray atop. He flicked them and giggled, bemused by the sand flying into the air. A woman crept up to him, clutching her purse to her plump side, and toyed with a scrunched up dollar bill in her hand. She stood within arms length of the homeless man and waved the dollar bill to catch his attention. He stared at her for a moment, as if threatened, or ashamed, but then plucked the dollar bill from her hand.

After that, he pushed the dollar bill into his mouth and ate it.  
- The Diligent Gypsy

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