Friday, January 17, 2014

The Beggar

I live in a middle class town known for having a large Jewish population and being near a major college campus.  Despite this, I cannot find a decent loaf of challah bread or pastrami without driving 20 miles and having spent my childhood next to a similar town, this often depresses me.  I even gave the pastrami another chance yesterday, driving clear across town to the kosher "deli", where I was just saddened to find they had nothing more than packaged pastrami rounds for sale, not even having the decency to offer first cut pastrami. 

As an aside, first cut pastrami and corned beef are flat pieces of meat and often served on a fine sandwich in both kosher and non-kosher delis.  The rounds are little more than a poorly prepared sandwich found in a school cafeteria or that deli you only go to by accident or because you work in a heckhole.  A pee-pee soaked heckhole.  Even I would pack my lunch if that was the only deli in the area and I live in a cured and other meat backwater.

So, with pastrami out of playbook and all of this fine Amish rye bread begging to be eaten, I venture out into the unseasonable warmth to procure a box of chicken noodle soup.  To be honest, I am well aware that soup in a box is not exactly the finest food to be eaten with its ridiculously high salt content and limited nutritional value, but it is enjoyable every so often.  After purchasing the bread yesterday, I was actually shocked there was no instant soup in the house and I was forced to make do with other, sadder foods for dinner last night. 

Taking my own hand, off I strode toward the supermarket.  The walk was refreshing and I covered the distance of the downtown in short order, realizing that despite living here for years, it still didn't feel like home, since I seldom walked the downtown I lived on and instead, usually drove everywhere to foreshorten the time spent away, usually due to work constraints.  It almost felt alien, which your hometown should never feel, but there it was, gnawing at the back of my mind as I walked. 

Passing the combination drug and liquor store, which to this day amuses me to no end, I start walking past the post office.  As part of the town beautification project of the last two years, the town installed benches along the downtown so people can rest and enjoy a faux slice of small town life.  Actually, benches is slightly factually inaccurate.  The benches are more two metal chairs cemented into the ground.  Actually, they are utterly ridiculous and I've never had any desire to sit in one. 

But as I walk passed the post office, a blond woman in a jacket is sitting in one of those chairs.  Not expecting anything, I am surprised as the woman begins to aggressively call, "Sir, Hello Sir" as I pass.  Trained in the arts of walking through a large city unscathed, I neither break stride or turn my head, as nothing can be gained from interacting with a beggar.  I was surprised, as I have never encountered a beggar here before and was somewhat disappointed, since you would expect a town that strongly enforces their traffic laws to also enforce quality of life issues, but there was the beggar.

So, I purchase soup in the market and begin my journey home.  I decide to go the same way, since I am not worried about confrontation of this sort, but the beggar has left.  Of course, walking down the same street, I make it four more blocks, nearly at my apartment, when I hear again, "Sir, Hello Sir", in that aggressive tone that states I might owe her something.  Well, I owe her nothing and move on without confrontation, as right behind me I hear, "Miss, Hello Miss" as she tries to lure another person to an unwinnable situation. 

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