in new york city, we all have our favorite bagel place, our favorite pizzeria, our favorite street, our favorite spot in the park, our favorite secret, our favorite busker, and our favorite homeless person. mine is an alcoholic who resides in greenpoint, wears a black leather jacket, sports a goatee, and a huge smile. at one point he was staying in a local squat/with friends, but not sure where he is living now.
he always said hi to me, and i said hi back. once he said, "hello, young lady" to which i promptly responded, "hell, old man." he laughed hysterically and i knew i had made a friend. we had that exchange several other times, and it always resulted in laughter from him.
one day, several winters ago, i was walking home from the laundromat with a very full granny cart full of clean laundry. it was one of those snowstorms before christmas, when stores were panicking because no one was shopping because, god forbid, we might get cold or wet! i took advantage of the lull to do my laundry; i was one of the only lunatics in there. so, i'm walking home, and this house has a messed up sidewalk, which i can't see because there is snow all over the sidewalk. my cart hits it, flips over, and i fall, skinning both of my knees (which were quite bloody and painful for over a week). i also skinned my hands. in the cold snow, i tried to pull myself up, but as my hands were hurting, it was hard. the old woman whose house it was simply stared at me, saying nothing. (i should've threatened to sue her, eh?) before i could submit to tears, my favorite homeless man gave me his hand to help me up, and then righted my cart. i swallowed my tears and thanked him profusely. ever since then, i have a spot for him in my heart.
we chat. usually not much, but, "how was your day?" "this weather is awful, stay dry." "have a beautiful day; you look lovely." today, coming home from a 5 mile race (it was obvious i had raced, as i had my running number still pinned to my pants, and a medal around my neck), he paused me to ask me about my race, about my running, and about the marathon. he is truly a charming man.
he doesn't panhandle, and he sits on the stoop, drinking with his friends. but he is one of the nicest new yorkers. whenever i see his big friendly smile, i know i'm in my neighborhood, and glad to have such colorful, friendly, and wonderful street people.