thought he wasn’t violent but turns out he’s actually pretty violent

A few weeks ago I posted a podcast about the new homeless guy in my area and how he goes to Arahi’s Bakery #2 (where I’ve finally stopped getting breakfast). He’s always screaming and he walks with a staggering kinda waddle and has a cataract in one eye. Volatile dude. I talked a bit about the local phenomenon (which is maybe not so impressive to anyone else) of new people turning up in the nieghborhood who are homeless, they hang around for a month or so, and then they disappear. Never learn where they came from, never learn where they went.

Well I didn’t see that one Guy for like two weeks and figured that, like so many others, he’d run his course here and left.

Then this morning I’m walking my usual route to Pasion del Cielo, I’m coming up on the gas station just before I-95, and I hear somebody telling (not uncommon for the area, but a little more pronounced at 7:30 a.m.) and then I hear a hollow sorta thunk…thunk…

As I came up behind the gas station I saw that it was The Guy! Thee shrieking homeless dude with the wobbly gait and the cataract and the temper. And what I immeidately started thinking about is that section in the podcast where I was talking about kinda not liking this impulse I’d have, whenever he came into a drugstore or a diner where I happened to be, to suddenly get tense, and start looking at the exits. I was reacting as though, just because he occasionally shouts, he’s violent. Somebody to be avoided.

The Temptation of St. Anthony, Salvator Rosa

Well when I saw him this morning, at the gas station, he’d gone to one of the pumps and pulled, from a bucket of suds, one of the windshield-washing squeegee sticks and he was beating it against the cashier’s window, yelling at her for not letting him in, for not “lettin’ me have somethin’!”

There’s a Honduran restaurant across from the laundromat I go to where, one time, while sitting at the counter, I saw The Guy walk in. One of the burlier servers quickly stepped right into his face, stood nearly chest-to-chest with him, and he asked The Guy what he wanted and The Guy said, “i want some food!” and the server said no, “I already told you,” and then he pointed at the door (it looked like a practiced routine) and told The Guy he had to leave, whereupon The Guy shouted for him to “fuck yourself” and everybody looked up from their meal and the restaurant went kinda quiet except for the music. he turned and shoved the door open and staggered out to the road, screaming as he went.

He’s always been so clearly underfed and wobbly on his feet that I figured he was harmless, despite the constant shouting and the obscenity, and the penchant for flinging cups at walls. I was like, “Nah, he’s just a little upset.” But here he is tryna smash a bullet-proof window with a squeegee and I’m watching from the sidewalk thinking, like, it might be possible to respect somebody’s mental illness while simultaneously resolving to stay the fuck away from them.

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