Rainy Sunday Street Scene

Still trying to get my meds balanced, the consequences of applying the pain patch too close to ingesting a muscle relaxant is apparently a nap. Yesterday, a grey saturday, I nodded off in the early evening only to wake up in what I thought was the middle of the night. There was to be no going directly back to sleep, so I snapped on the reading lamp and dove back into The Historian. Sometime later I heard the too loud talking from eight floors below, a gaggle of Cal students headed back to campus from a night of partying. A weekend annoyance that must really bother lite sleepers. 

But wait . . . the parties break up between midnight and two, it must not be the middle of the night after all. I started to check the time and then let it go, who cares -- I have a book and a quilt, what matters the parsing of the night. 

Some time later I nodded off. When I awoke again it had turned light, well grey actually and moist. Sunday was going to be rainy and dim -- some of my favorite weather. I lay in bed looking out on the the seamless sky, my mind drifted to a scene I had written yesterday where I mentioned a character's stance on breakfast. I wrote that he was "not a big bacon and eggs man." Neither am I but that sure sounded good on this particular morning. So I rolled out, donned some sweats and with a peremptory face splash and tooth scrape I was off to the market. The dashboard suggested it was 7:45 and 52 degrees, no mention of the rain, I clearly need a more technologically advanced mode of transportation, one that can tell me when its raining.

I ducked under the store awning and grabbed a outlier cart. There was a street guy neatly arranging all the other shopping carts and telling the universe -- "It ain't no right weather for a dog, no dignity in being rained upon." I pondered that bit of wisdom in the produce aisle and decided it was well worth a dollar when I left the store. Street wisdom is a commodity that should be rewarded.

Not a lot of shoppers early on a rainy Sunday, I grabbed only the basics: eggs, bacon, bread and chocolate. One check stand open, the only other customer handing her check and ID to the checker. There was a three or four minute technical issue with getting the computer to accept her check for $12.01, which included two dollars cash back. While the clerk struggled with the scanner, the customer told us how much of an accomplishment she consider it to actually get herself out of the house on "such an awful day." She was quite fashionably dressed in 1950's school marm, with black horn-rimmed glasses and the mandatory hair bun; not to mention that rain equated with awful and she wrote a check for two dollars cash back. Oh she was going to make it into a story for sure, a living breathing archetype.

The manager floated by, punched a few buttons solving the check issue and the flow of commerce began anew. A change of clerks slowed my checkout by a minute or so, when I was again outside under the awning, headed for my chariot, I saw her and the street guy by her car. He was too close, she had her hands drawn up under her chin, arms tight to her chest. Shit! Sometimes being the large, white male who does the right thing is just a pain in the ass.

I set my bag on the hood of my car and walked towards them.

"I think you're frightening her."

"We just talkin'."

"I don't think she wants to talk in the rain."

"Dis is none of your business."

"How about five bucks to leave her alone?" I snapped the bill in my hand.

"I ain't no fuckin' beggar!" He turned aggressively toward me, then immediately lowered his voice, cowering his head. He had instantaneously converted to ultra-submissive. Before I could sort it out, she pointed over my shoulder and said: "Police."

I glanced back and two Berkeley uniforms were headed our way.

"Is there a problem?"

I turned back to my groceries, "She can fill you in," I said.

"Sir, we need citizen complaints to take any action against violent offenders."

"He wasn't violent towards me, but as I said, you might want to speak with her."

I wasn't about to parse the interaction between those two psychological complexes. I mean two dollars cash back, really? Besides there were bacon and eggs waiting not to mention a grey, rainy day to enjoy.
photo from a Sam's Club in China