Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Hobo Who Loves Me

Recently a man came into my store who was obviously homeless. I'm not trying to generalize here, but his odor and the layer of soot covering him just gave me a hunch. I certainly could be wrong. Given the location of my shop, I get riff-raff in from time to time, and that's okay with me. Sure they stink up my bathroom and sometimes stare at me just a bit too long, but I try to be friendly and human, as a rule.

This guy walked around looking through drawers of baby onesies and socks before finally coming over to me and offering to wash my windows. He introduced himself and looked over his shoulder as he loosely accepted my offer to shake hands. I was helping a very pregnant woman carry many boxes and bags of clothing at the time, so I listened to his muttered schpeel and then said "sure, that sounds great, go for it" before turning back to my task. 

He proceeded to wash my windows. He would stop from time to time to squat on the sidewalk and contemplate life, watch passing vehicles, or to simply have a brief but animated conversation with himself. He was very thorough with his cleaning, even taking the time to wash the inside of my doors - which have several paper, handwritten signs on them. Those he just washed right over. They're all very blurry now. 

My younger brothers arrived shortly before he'd finished, having just spent the day wine tasting. I was relieved to see them, having wrongly convinced myself of the possibility that every time the man stopped to self-chat, whoever was there was slowly convincing him to kill me. 

When he finally finished, he came in, ignoring my brothers, and said it would be five dollars. I gave him ten, because there are a lot of windows, and aside from completely ruining my signs, he'd done a good job and could obviously use the money. He was very pleased and offered to wash the inside of my windows as well, but I glanced at the doors with their soggy signs and politely declined, telling him to take care and have a nice day. 

After he'd left, Ben laughed and asked me what the hell I'd been thinking, giving the guy more money than he'd asked for? He said "you realize that now all the homeless people are going to start coming in here looking for work, right?" I wondered aloud if they had a system like the Hobos do, where they leave a mark to instruct future wanderers what to expect from certain houses. Like, a smiley face means you can sleep in the barn; four lines means the woman of the house will feed you; a rectangle with a dot inside means Danger, and so on. I was going to walk out front to see if there were any new marks or symbols on my planters, but decided against it when I saw my window washer out there, setting up camp in front of one of my now-clean windows.

It appeared as though he wanted to keep me for himself.

As my brothers were eager to continue their wine country experience, they stood near the window giving the guy a 'get lost' vibe, which he eventually did. I guess I'll see him the next time my windows need a shine. 

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