Earthbound concerns of an ascendant adult

Hobo Encounter

with 4 comments

Yesterday afternoon, postwork, I ran into Woo outside Coffman and forced him—literally pushed him—onto the 144, as I hadn’t seen him lately and wanted to catch up. Last time we talked, Woo was undergoing a spiritual crisis resulting from his first time reading the Bible. He’d just finished and was wondering, “Do I really believe in this?” As a result, it seems Woo’s burnt out on school and heavy thought, so he’s taking next semester off, and this one as well, as he hasn’t been to class lately and has decided to drop his current class load.

Woo’s a goofball pal acquired at Highland Park, where, with words and an occasional push, I bullied him sophomore year. During the next seven years, I bore guilt and hoped for redemption. One afternoon at University, I saw Woo at the library, and approached him, and apologized. The semester after that, we had a class together, and developed a weird friendship. Woo’s confrontational in a way that’s endearing. Yesterday, he wanted food—a submarine samich, specifically—so we debussed in Saint Pilla and walked to the Subway beside Grandview Theater, past Macalester, and the hardware store, and the art supplies store and elementary school. All at once, in Minnesota, it’s spring—no jackets required—and I couldn’t be happier.

After we ate, we continued walking, no destination. At some point, I noticed three burly guys ahead—walking toward us—led by one whose gait was gorilla-esque. During walks with another person, if you see people coming toward you, you must, at some point, move into single file so everyone can pass. As the burlies approached, I moved ahead of Woo, assuming they’d pass beside us. They didn’t. Close now, the lead man shouted, “Hey, kids! How’re you today?” He was plastered, and as I said, “Good, good,” he tried to put his arm around my shoulders. I ducked away and said, “No.” No touch, thanks.

So on Grand’s sidewalk, we five stood there, Woo and me face-to-face with three drunk hobos. “We’re old hobos,” said the lead man, “and we’re drunk.” His clothes were dark blue, his skin pockmarked and dirty. He wore a winter hat. “Yeah!” slurred a compatriot hobo. “We just got here and we’re drunk!” Hobo #2 was even drunker. “Can you spare some change?” said the lead-man, and I shook my head. “Even 40 cents,” he said, “would be nice. I know you kids live near a private college and you must have some money for us three old hobos.” I said, “No, I don’t have any money. I’m sorry,” in response to which the lead man looked to Woo, who said nothing. “Well, God bless you then,” he said. “May God bless you both.” He put his hand out for a shake, and I shook it, and so did Woo, and the hobos went on.

“Be safe,” I said as they left. “Be careful.” I knew they’d be in detox soon. Macalester’s dangerous loping territory for an old drunk homeless man, let alone a pack. Further on, the three confronted an oldster who rushed past into his building. He might’ve called the cops. One night, I came home from the supermarket to see police tasering a naked guy messed up on PCP. They set the dogs on him, too, despite his dangle. Similar treatment seemed in the cards for the old hobos. The prospect of that frightened me. Cops frighten me. I hope those guys’re all right.

Written by patiomensch

February 21, 2007 at 12:27 am

Posted in Personal

4 Responses

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  1. I had no idea you forged a friendship with the kid you bullied. I remember the story, I think I revised, er critiqued it for class. that seems so long ago now.

    shannon v

    February 21, 2007 at 7:01 am

  2. Naw, you musta read it apart from the group because that wasn’t the story I put up for class review. In fact, we read it in small groups, and it made Alison and that brunette who wrote about her mom’s abuse want to cry. That was a major achievement for me, ha!


    February 21, 2007 at 3:39 pm

  3. Thanks!,


    December 13, 2008 at 9:13 am

  4. Thanks!,


    December 13, 2008 at 9:16 am

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