08 September 2011

Tales of brave Ulysses

The drive to pick up the daughter has become something of an education.

Her school is located in an area that isn't terribly nice, and with the probation office and the courts and the social services offices nearby, I am beginning to learn the cast of characters.

Oh, there are the extras, the folks who work in the county offices all about. By the end of the day, they look weary, though I occasionally see them smile.

There are food trucks--everywhere. Yesterday, the daughter and I counted four within a two-block radius. The aromas coming from at least one of them were quite enticing.

I see the people at the bus stop, and they look not unlike the people with whom I rode the bus for years--I lived in California for eight years without a car, and successfully commuted between Pasadena and Westwood. It wasn't fun, but I managed.

Then there are those for whom, obviously, there is another story.

There is a wheelchair, a character in some larger drama. Sometimes, I see a man pushing the empty wheelchair down the street. Sometimes, I see a woman, who is missing part of her leg, in the wheelchair, being pushed by the man. I've seen the woman in the wheelchair making her own way about. I've seen the man in the wheelchair being pushed by the woman. Once, I walked past them, and the woman was standing next to wheelchair on crutches, while the man sat in it, and they were squabbling over who didn't say "thank you" frequently enough.

I've come to recognize various homeless individuals, one of whom has all of his belongings very tidily arranged on a rolling suitcase. He is usually nattily dressed as he pulls his mobile home along behind him, sleeping bag rolled and well-attached to the suitcase. I wonder if he is yet another casualty of the terrible job situation in this state.

Another man, very tall and often quite lost looking, sometimes stands, staring a bit vacantly with 99 Cent Store bags ranged around him. Although he wears a jacket with a hood pulled up over his head even in the hottest weather, it's unclear if he has nowhere to go or if he is simply waiting for someone to retrieve him. He is quite clean, which leads to me believe the latter, but there is a sadness that hangs over him. For some reason, the daughter finds him frightening, and always pulls in close to me when we pass him.

Today, as I sat at the stoplight, waiting for the green arrow, a man careered through the crosswalk, talking with great enthusiasm on a cell phone. The cell phone and his demeanor didn't mesh with his outfit: old sneakers with dingy sports socks, cutoff jeans, a dirty wifebeater over which a white oxford shirt hung open. On his head, he sported a pink knit watch cap, and he carried a child's umbrella like a parasol, protecting himself from the intense afternoon sun.

Really, I have no idea.

Go listen to some good music: "Tales of Brave Ulysses" from the album The Very Best of Creem by Creem.

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