A homeless man introduced himself to me and offered me a cigarette last Sunday morning. I had walked to the park for some fresh air and solitude. It was early. I couldn’t sleep due to the adrenaline high from the previous day. I was sitting in the grass next to the manmade babbling brook as the sun levitated off the horizon.
He had been standing next to his bicycle weighed down with an awkwardly large garbage bag of essentials, I suppose. He came over to where I was sitting under a tree and asked if my name was Brenda. He asked if I knew of an Amy, Greta, Rachel or Rebecca. I told him, “no.” He asked me if I was native American. I said, “no.” He was drinking water out of a reused orange juice bottle filled with dill pickle spears. He wore a construction helmet and gloves with the fingers cut off. He was courteous but had an instructive tone in his voice as he told me about my neighborhood, the name of which he got off the t-shirt I was wearing. He told me about the Ford Plant… “Now let me tell you something about their product: wasteless, wireless, smokeless, paperless, engineless, fruitless, potless, workless…” By then a middle aged blue collar had taken it upon himself to walk by and interrupt. “You are a no good piece of (expletive), he said, addressing the homeless guy. “I know what you are up to,” he insisted. The two men start to argue loudly, each attempting to out talk the other. The early morning risers start to stare our direction. I tell the blue collar, “Thank you and I’m fine, however, I would rather enjoy the morning without arguing and I was holding my own.” The blue collar seemed satisfied and moved on.
I ask the homeless man what he will be doing today. He told me he’ll be hanging out a bit longer until the churches open up. I thanked him for the good conversation and walked back home. He was pleasant. He was generous: he offered me a cigarette. He asked me what I wanted for breakfast, although all we could pursue was an imaginative wish feast. I asked him his name. His name was Henry.