Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Oddities

1.  Walking home from the bus stop Wednesday afternoon, I happened to look up to see a couple of buzzards/vultures circling overhead.  This isn't completely odd, but vultures tend not to glide in groups of more than two; here were four surveying the same space.  No, make that six.  Wait...there are ten.  That's when I got a little spooked.  It's not like that we circling directly over me, but a dozen turkey buzzards circling nearby isn't something you don't see on daily basis.  The houses in my neighborhood are three-story jobs, so the birds were easy to see.  I counted twenty before they spiraled upward and took off to the northwest.

2.  A man I assume is homeless is always folding his bedding when I arrive at the transfer station in downtown Harrisburg.  He seems nice enough -- I don't get hostile or weird vibes from him.  He sleeps in an alcove of the M&T Bank building.  I stand there to get out of the wind or precipitation and to read until the Number 39 appears.  I am surprised but pleased that neither the bank nor the cops have made an effort to move him along.  His bed starts with a covering of free tabloids on the granite, and then innumerable blankets.  He wears several layers of clothing and a hooded, insulated winter coat.  Some people scowl or look accusingly or hurry by him.  (I've noticed that a few look at me about the same way.)  He may be used to it or doesn't care what they think.  Occasionally someone will walk up to him and offer him money, coffee, a sandwich.  He very graciously refuses it.  The people look at him as if he's crazy.  He's not crazy.  I have the feeling he's actually pretty smart.

Yesterday morning he was busily cleaning up his site, folding his blankets, and a man walked up to him and insisted that he take some money.  The offerer would not take "no" for an answer and thrust some money into the bed guy's pocket and walked away.  The man who was quietly cleaning up his bedding area before he was interrupted walked over to me and offered me $5.  I tried to match the graciousness I'd heard from him.  At first he was insistent, but I told him, "I'm OK for today.  Keep it."  He looked at me and smiled and returned to his work.

I know I can appear to be down and out.  Once in the summer as I sat on a bench at the transfer center, which seems to be where those down on their luck congregate, a woman who clearly volunteered for some agency walked up to me and asked if I'd like a sandwich and a coke.  On the other hand, I've also been hit up for money; I tend not to have any, certainly none on me.  But I'd never been offered $5 by a street person.

Today we smiled "good morning."  We'll talk if and when he wants to.  He may not want to.  That's OK too.

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