I’m Not A Dumpster! – 25 October 2013

Posted: October 25, 2013 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,




25 October 2013

This morning there was frost on the pumpkins, and on car windshields. Motorists, who hadn’t unpacked their winter scrapers, were using credit cards to remove the whiteness that obscured visibility. As I approached Joy, she was talking to a lady who walked away as I arrived.”

“Joy said, “You won’t believe it. That lady just dropped me a twenty. Before that I’d only made three bucks. Another lady gave me a bag with a winter coat and boots in it. Somebody else brought be a bag of canned food and Kraft Dinner. I’ve got so many cups of tea and coffee that I can’t drink them all. I’ll leave them for Chuck Senior.

“Yesterday, my workers came to my place and brought two bags of groceries. I’m all set for the weekend. I gave Mariah the grape jelly and a box of pancake mix. Charlie loves pancakes.

“I thought Mariah kicked him out.”

“Out, in, who can keep track. I love pancakes, now I just have to buy some syrup. I also bought some magic mushrooms. Mariah was going over to Chester’s place, but I said, ‘Have some of these first.’ We went through the whole bunch. Mariah called me from Chester’s. She said, “Joy don’t ever do that to me again.. I can barely walk.’ I said, ‘Relax, rest a while and you’ll come down enough to walk home. I just lay back and watched a video. I don’t even know what I watched. I think it may have been Scarface.

“See that guy who just walked by? He didn’t have anything to say this time.”

“Has he spoken to you before?”

“Yeah, we call him Turtle. He was panning in Silver’s old spot. I said to him, “What do you think you’re doing?  By panning here you’re cutting Carl’s grass. He’s had that spot for ages. Go someplace else. Get your own spot.”

I asked, “So how did yesterday go? Are you looking for a new apartment? I was thinking that Shark’s landlord may have a place for you. He has a number of buildings.”

“I know those places. I wouldn’t want to live there. First of all there are bed bugs. Second, I don’t like the people who hang around Shark’s place — a lot of crackheads.”

I said, “I guess you’ll need to be in a building with an elevator.”

“Why? I don’t mind stairs.”

“I was thinking of Big Jake, when he gets out.”

“He can fend for himself. I promised to take care of him after his hip surgery. I’ll follow through on that, but I don’t want to live with anybody. Jake isn’t much but, he’s the best I can get. Who else am I going to meet? Look at my lifestyle!”

I said, “I just had an idea. I know you don’t want to quit drinking, but what if you attended some A.A. meetings? You might meet a better class of men there…Or, you could try grocery stores, laundromats, they always worked for me.”

“Are you serious? Maybe I’ll try the grocery store.

“I need a pair of scissors to cut my hair. It’s so long now that I can barely stuff it under my do rag. The blond has nearly grown out. I just have a few wisps by my ears. Jake doesn’t like blond hair.

“I talked to my worker Yesterday. He and his partner are going to help me find a place. Also, I checked with the Housing Registry to see where I was on their list. They told me I’d moved up, but that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t know how many people are ahead of me.”

Two garbage trucks pulled up at the curb. Three men got out.  I asked Joy, “I can’t remember that guy’s name.  Do you remember what it is?”

“No, it’s some foreign name.” To him she said, “Hey, why is it that your partner is in the small truck now? Has he been demoted?”

“We’re just on different routes now.”

To me she said, “See the guy in the checkered coat. He’s a real asshole. He asked me one time, ‘Why are you sitting on that box? Why don;t you get a job?’ “Dude,’ I said, ‘I’m agoraphobic. That means I can’t stand to be around too many humans. Crowds make me nervous. You’re a pepper (French-speaking person), you wouldn’t understand what that means.’ “

I asked, “Have you always felt like that?”

“Yeah, even when I was a kid I wanted to be alone, or with one friend. When I’m at the park and Shakes or Frank bring other people along I get in a bad mood. That’s when I start fighting. Or, I just leave and go home.

“Hawk and Loretta came by yesterday. I don’t mind Hawk, but I didn’t want to be anywhere near Loretta. For some reason she was just bugging me.”

The same young man, who gave Joy, half a bagel, yesterday, stopped by. He said, “Would you like half?” He held the bagel by the paper wrapper and Joy pulled off half. He said, “I changed up the flavor today. I hope you like it.”

“Thanks, sweetie.”

To me she said, “Yuck, apple and cinnamon. You have this. I like cinnamon, but I can’t stand apples. I know people are raving about these, but they’re just not for me. I don’t even like apple pie.”

I said, “I love cinnamon. I even sprinkle it on my eggs in the morning. It’s very nutritious.”

“That’s just wrong.

“Some people have even offered me food that they’ve taken a bite out of. That’s gross. I may be a panhandler, I may be hungry, but I’m not a dumpster.”

A lady topped and handed Joy a five dollar bill. Joy asked, “Are you sure, honey? Thanks so much.

“I’m excited, this is like Christmas, and it’s not even Halloween.”



  1. riselikeair says:

    Reblogged this on Rise Like Air and commented:
    Everyone has a story. Every day we see people and assume we know at least part of their story. We consider our assumptions fact enabling us to judge people around us. We work diligently at fitting a label to neatly classify them. Then we go on our merry way; if only we knew the whole story. If only we took the time to discover it. How much richer might our lives be? Might their lives be? I’m am so very grateful that some people take the time to not only understand the stories, but to help us understand too. It’s getting colder out. I think I might have a few old coats that want to feel needed again. It’s easy to give them to charity and think no more of it… but to hand it to the person who will be kept warm by it. There is a humanness in that act that seems to have so much more meaning. I used to think that would be embarrassing to the receiver, to get a “hand out”. But now I realize that the “hand” is the connection that reminds us we are all part of the same race… the human race. And whether we want to accept it or believe it… it could just as easily be you or me in need of that hand tomorrow.


  2. seagullnic says:

    Once again your writing takes me there, right onto the cold street.


  3. I re-blogged this and replied to a quote that struck a chord. Thank you for this post.


  4. breezespeaks says:

    You are doing for the homeless what I try to do for the working poor. Bravo, and may your blog go viral.


    • Thanks William for your kind words. Thanks also for what you are doing for the working poor. I enjoy your blog. I don’t use AT&T, but I’ve had similar problems with other services. ~ Dennis


  5. Nikki says:

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog…so that I might find yours. This is incredible and exactly what my heart longs to know…everyone has a story and I desire to know what that is so I’m able to love them well, right where they are.

    I have a tattoo on my wrist that says “Choose Joy” and while it was a message for me to remember when sometimes I get stuck, this writing about Joy here, changes my perspective and shifts the paradigm… I will choose to focus on her and the other “Joys” whose residence are turned inside out for us all to see and walk right straight through their living rooms. Hopefully I can start sharing their stories as well. 🙂


  6. These are such worthy narratives. Your concept is a voice in the darkness. I once lived in my car in between jobs, running from being a witness in a court case. I lived with myriad other homeless people on the fringe of a college campus. The richness I found in their stories around the campfire changed my life. If only I could have done more to change theirs. You are onto something here. Best, Renee


    • Thanks so much, Renee, I am honored by your comments. I enjoyed your post “Generational Syntactical Blunders”, a very funny story. ~ Dennis


      • Dennis – thank you. Keep up your most worthy work. I saw a video in my online newspaper yesterday about a project that showed the transformation of a homeless person – a veteran. They gave him a hair cut and make over and professional clothing and support for moving forward. The time lapse video was amazing. Thank you for the work you do and for visiting my blog. – Renee


  7. Rene says:

    Joy really deserves a break, she has been having rough lately. She is right, that is really rude of people to offer half eaten food to her. Interesting knowledge today: Pepper. Didn’t know that. Keep writing and caring for those wonderful people.


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