He came steadily down the middle of the busy street even though there is a sidewalk. He was leaning slightly forward and walking as if he were falling, catching himself with each step. His hair was a mix of gray and dirty brown, he had bags under his eyes, and on the back of his short, shorts he wore a fanny pack. This happened yesterday while I was volunteering at Abandoned Pet Rescue. I took the dog I was walking and crossed quickly over to the railroad tracks, giving the stumble bum more than enough room and making sure that no eye contact was made. I didn't make it to sixty three years old without learning a few things, and one of those things I learned was to carefully avoid crazy people.
When I first moved into the big city, I continued to live as if I were living on that quiet suburban street thirty five miles out. I remember one of the first nights living in Chicago and I couldn't sleep. Somebody's car alarm was wailing up the block. So at two in the morning I put on my pants and shoes, and went out to find the offender. I found the car, but I soon realized that there was nothing I could do about it, so I went back to the apartment and called the police. The lady at the other end of the phone took my information and in a monotone voice and very few words suggested that I was an idiot. I learned to live with the city noise. To this day I keep a box fan running in my bedroom all night. It does a good job of drowning most noises out including screams. Over the years I have learned not to give money to the beggars on Michigan Avenue. As I advised Mark, "They are like cats. Once they see that you're an easy mark they'll keep bugging you." It only took him a few times walking up and down Michigan Avenue to realize that he was spending more on the beggars than he was on his precious shopping. I've also learned to avoid walking past a large group of young men when there is nobody else on the street. I've learned that when a pretty lady dressed like a hooker starts a conversation, she is a hooker. There are a lot of lessons I have learned in the forty three years since I moved out of the town I grew up in. The best lesson of all though, is that I don't need a gun. I don't need a conceal and carry permit so that I can stuff a gun down my pants. That is because on the two occasions that I have had a gun pulled on me, there is no way I could have out Quick Draw McGrawed the person with the gun. The first occasion of having a gun stuck against my head I was driving a taxi, and on the second occasion I was clerking overnight at a Seven Eleven store. So that is another lesson I learned in the big city. Don't take a shitty job.