Shelters – 29 August 2014

Posted: August 30, 2014 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,




29 August 2014

“Good morning, Dennis. You’re early. Are you bucking for a raise?”

“Where I work we don’t get raises.”

“Maybe they’ll kick your ass out the door. That’ll be a raise.

“You don’t work for the phone company do you?”


“I got a call at 8:00 in the morning. Some asshole was saying that I owe $240., or something like that. I said to him, “No I don’t. I have a receipt from the bank acknowledging my payment of $187.’ ‘No you don’t,’ he said. I said, ‘I’ve already talked to the phone company about that. It’s their error. This month I paid  the difference, so I owe you nothing.’ He said, “Yes you do, you owe the company $240.’  I said to him I’m not paying money I don’t owe, so do what you want. Cut off my phone if you like.’ He said, ‘I’m not authorized to do that.’ I said, ‘If I get hassled any more about this, I’ll  be stopping my cell phone. I’ll bring the television receiver to your office and I’ll smash it on the floor. So, you’ll be able to add that to the rest of the money I’m not going to pay. When you get of the phone You can go fuck your mother, because that’s all you’re good for.’

“That’s a hell of a way to run a business.”

I asked, “Was the call from a collection agency? They buy debts and receive a percentage of anything they can recover, at least that’s the way I understand it.”

“No this guy said he was from the phone company.’

I asked, “Do you have any plans for the long weekend?”

“No, I’ll be coming down here to McDonald’s to meet with my friends. I usually bring a coffee from across the street. I order the extra small there. At McDonald’s I ask them to refill my cup, because they don’t have extra small. The guy refused to refill my cup. He said it wasn’t sanitary.  I settled for a regular size coffee filled half way to the top. They never get it half full. It’s either too much or not enough. When I add two milk and one sugar, it doesn’t taste right. I’d feel stupid bringing a measuring cup, but that maybe the only way I can get a decent cup of coffee. Sometimes, they give me cream instead of milk. That doesn’t taste right either.”

A man with a long beard walked by. I asked Chuck, “Do you know that guy?”

“I didn’t see him.”

I said, “That’s the guy that Joy got in a fight with. He shoved her and she landed in the street.”

Chuck asked, “What was the fight about?”

“He was standing in her spot.”

“If he wasn’t a panhandler, she’s got no right to ask him to move.”

I said, “He was arrested by the police. I think he’s crazy.”

“Crazies are a different matter.”

I said, ” Friends of mine who stay at the shelter complain that the alcoholics, the crack-heads, the crazies are all thrown together. Nobody can get any sleep.”

Chuck said, “They should keep them separated. I had a friend who stayed there. I liked the food. On the main floor was everyone there for one night only. On the second floor they put the people who had signed up for the week. At the back they had nicer rooms for people who were employed, but were saving their money to get a place of their own. They were semi-permanent.

“I remember when that place was just a soup kitchen. In fact that’s what it was called, The Soup Kitchen. It was close to where I lived so I’d go there for my lunch. I remember one day they were serving oysters on the half shell. Nobody but me wanted to try them. I love them. I ate so much I got sick.

” After lunch they’d give out small bags of groceries, so people could make their own lunches. Often I’d stand at the back door and offer guys two bucks for their bags. The booze can was in the next block, so most of them preferred the cash. I don’t know how it operates now.”


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