sparechange?
© 1999 Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>


I have a friend who lives in Haight-Ashbury. He's lived there for about ten years. I was at his apartment one evening, and we needed something from the store. We went down the steep stairs from his apartment, through the security gate, carefully stepped over the homeless man sleeping in the doorway, and crossed the street to a small grocery.

As we made our way through the crowd of panhandlers in front of the store, a litany of negation started coming from my friend: ``no, no, no, no, sorry, no, no, no, sorry, no, no, no...'' I looked at my friend: he was staring ahead and down, not making eye contact with anyone, not apparently talking to anyone in particular. I wasn't sure he even noticed that he was saying anything. He wasn't upset, or angry, this appeared to be just The Way One Entered The Store. We made our purchases and left, and on the way out, he repeated the same ritual.

``Wow,'' I said.

``Those same guys have been standing there since I moved here,'' he said.

I remembered that once he had said to me, ``I need to move out of the Haight, I'm sick of stepping over the human debris every time I walk out the door.'' That was five years earlier. He still lives in the same place.


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