Today I was walking to CD Alley and was in front of Hazmat, the head shop next door, when this black guy burst through the doors and said “HEY.”
I stopped and looked at him; he was very young, with horrible burn scars all over his face. He ground to a halt in front of the giant “HAZMAT” sign, towering neon orange letters on the storefront window.
“Hey, girl—can you help me? I need to know. . .is this Hazmat?”
I’m in the twilight zone. I look at the boy’s face, I look at the huge orange lettering framing him, I look back at him.
“Um. Yes. You’re in front of the sign.”
“Cool. I was supposed to meet mah fren here a while ago.”
And then. . .silence. How am I supposed to respond to this? I don’t care what he’s doing there. So I say nothing.
“Where you from, girl?” he asks.
I pause a little, but long enough to watch the Lovely Rita in the distance, writing me a parking ticket. Blast! I resign myself with a sigh and reply, “New Orleans.”
He throws his hands in the air and cries, “OOOHHH SHIT!!! I LOVE Florida! I used ta stay there! New Orleans! Lord, I miss Florida.”
I don’t know what to say, so I say nothing and I just let him keep talking.
“Yeah, girl. I stay here now, and I love it! UNC Hospital was so good to me, they took me on and gave me dis great job and now I’m successful and lovin it! Jus’ because I come from a bad neighbahood don’t mean I cain’t have a great job!”
It surely doesn’t. I ask him what he does at UNC Hospital. I think maybe I haven’t given him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s starting med school! Maybe he’s an intern! Maybe he works in triage! Maybe he does something cool like drive an ambulance! An EMT!!!
“Oh, well, you know. I mean, right now I’m in housekeepin’ but imona study hard and work mah way to Findotimist soon!” There is a sparkle in his eyes that denotes a general passion and dedication I lost a long time ago.
“And what, pray tell, does a ‘Findotimist’ do?” I ask him.
“Oh, you know. Dem’s da ones that takes the blood samples!”
Oh no. Please no. “A Phlebotomist you mean?”
“Yeah, girl! Yeah! A Flembotilist! Damn, that’s what I’m goin’ for! You got it!”
I tell him that there are plenty of people who have surely worked their way up from “Housekeeping” to “Findotimist.” He nods in agreement. I wish him good luck, and, realizing the conversation is over, I call my mom to see what she’s up to. I’m interrupted by a booming voice to my left,
“HEY HEY YOU HEY!! HEY! GIRL! YOU!!”
Since I generally do not respond to “hey,” “you,” or “girl,” I continue my conversation with my mom, but it doesn’t last long.
I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn to find an elderly homeless man with one leg SOMEHOW walking with one mangy crutch. I gesture to my phone and turn away. He does not appreciate this.
“YOU THINK I AIN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO TALK TO? I FOUNT DEEZ SUNGLASSES AND I WANNA GIVE UM BACK TO YOU! GET OFF YO FUCKIN PHONE! YOU RUDE!!”
Oh. My. God. I turned to him and let loose a string of obscenities I was unaware that I knew. Things were coming out of my mouth so loud and so fast that the dude just hobbled away with his middle finger up in the air. In the middle of my tirade I felt another tap on my shoulder. When I turned around, there was a man with one arm holding a pack of Marlboro Menthols in my face and gesturing wildly at me with them.
He had a stub where his right hand should have been, and he was grunting fervently and shaking these fucking smokes in my face. Why he would choose ME, of all passersby, the crazy girl screaming cuss words at a rapidly retreating legless cuntrag, I have no idea.
“I DON’T SMOKE THOSE.”
He did not stop. He kept waving the pack in my face and then he used his face to gesture at the matches in his front pocket.
“TAKE DIS! PUT IN MY MOUF! IN MY MOUF!!! RIGHT NOW!!”
He wanted me to put a cigarette in his mouth and light it for him. What the fuck is going on today? I was so taken aback that I grabbed a cigarette, jammed it in his piehole and told him to use his one good hand to light it. Then I realized I was still on the phone with my mom. I heard her saying, “Okey-dokey then. I’m gonna let you go hang out with your friends.” And with a little giggle she hung up. Gawd what a meanie face.
One burn victim with an IQ triple his shoe size, one amputee with a case of mistaken identity, and a rude-as-fuck fistless chain smoker with a speech impediment, all harrassing me over the course of four minutes. Are there people like this in Idaho? If not, I’m takin the A-Train to your secluded mountain cabin. I will bring my own toofbrush. I require very little. One down pillow, some Dr. Pepper, a record player, mascara, and the occasional flan. You won’t even know I am there.
See ya soon (pending your response),