Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Exchanges that happened

In Eugene, circa when I was there for a minute: I was standing outside my van, putting on my formal job-interview shirt. The side doors opened to a small patch of grass next to the sidewalk, obscured in both directions by a tree on either side. My curtain obscured the inside of the house. You could not see into the head of the cobra. An old man with wild teeth, carrying half a case of beer and some fishing equipment walked by slowly, limping with both legs. I greeted him with my typical friendly hello-with-a-nod, looking to see what he might be about.

"That's pretty incognito" he said, looking at my van, showing some interest.
"I like to keep it simple" divulging no specific info, but understanding that we both knew I lived in it.
"They won't spot you in that." he told me. "It's good."
"Well, you spotted it, didn't you?" I pointed out.
"They'll never chase you down in that thing." he said.

He told me about how his slide-in pickup camper was confiscated, and made mention of how he wished he had something like mine. That way he would still have a home. I felt bad for him, but not too bad. I felt angry at the system, but not too angry. I live under the radar, and I have a formal shirt for job interviews and fancy situations. He has beer and fishing equipment. I take care to park in new low-key unobtrusive places; I can only imagine he did something sketchy to get his home towed. But to take a man's home away is too much. How can you take shelter away from someone who has it? As I say, I felt some compassion and I felt some anger. I also understand a little bit of reality. I'm a lucky, white, well spoken, slightly clean, respectful young man. I want to scream murder in the face of evil who makes life needlessly complicated for another human. This was a friendly encounter, and I wished him a good day. This man left me with the happy image of the authorities literally trying to "chase me down" in my van, as he'd said. They have slow smoky vehicles with busted up axles, and thankfully they all forgot to release their e-brakes. To be unable to chase down my house is a classic mental picture. I'm warmed by his confidence. I'm always one step ahead.

In Ashland, circa coupla hours ago: I was upping my supply of incredibly affordable food and booze at the Safeway a couple thousand yards from downtown. Skater kids, with skateboards under arm, were meandering throughout the store. They'd put out a dragnet or something. I stood in a line that was long enough to reach to the center-aisle freezer section when a few of them had to break on through to the other side. I had two cans of chili (or similar) and a 6-pack of Ramen in my left hand / arm-crook. In my right hand, I held a 40oz Steel Reserve.

"Woah! two-eleven... you're living the gangster life!" commented the greasy blond skater teen.
"Ah, yes... the Gangster life indeed..." I replied automatically with a tone smacking of a well-bred gentleman recalling a polo match in his youth.

The exchange was brief and meaningless, and their laughter was immediate. My laughter came on strong about two seconds later. I don't know who was laughing with or at whom, but my heart was warmed because I'm always just trying to laugh at something.

Now, at 7:21, my gangster life commences. I'm taking swigs of two-eleven and my stove is waiting for my stomach to reach a boiling point. We're in cook-mode, and I'm typing up some remembered exchanges for posterity. I'm looking out my van doors now. I'm looking out as I type this. I can hear the creek. I can hear birds and crickets, as the sun descends and the brook babbles. Directly in front of me is a curb, immediately followed by mulch, shrubbery, trees, and eventually a path where only a couple people have passed in the last hour. Nobody seems to mind that I consistently have the best home location at the most affordable rate. I got a job as a dishwasher today.

4 comments:

Jack said...

I remember Eugene being very beautiful...

bethany ann said...

gangster is immediately what i thought when i met you i mean come on you scream it... but good luck with dish washing hopefully it isn't at friendly's :)

eddie spaghetti said...

sounds good over there, you're taking full advantage of the freedom we are born with. i dig it . like crazy. cars are for sleeping, bikes are for riding. me and the fam headed north to avoid the deluge and we came back with bags of ramen from a chinese grocer. it's like a a halloween candy haul. some are transendant, others not so much. but you should try it out. that bottle worries me chris. look around, that stuff destroys lives. just be aware. pools destroy cell phones, so you'll have to call me if you ever wanna hear my voice 3058969636

I'm Chris Harne said...

Bethany! Ahoy, you've posted a comment... you're following my follies! Hi!

Eddie - you're a wise person. I know, I know.

Jack - Hi! It is.