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Anonymous, To Anonymous

I live in an area of high foot traffic. A person can sit outside and just see stuff that makes you think. Be outside often enough for long enough, and you start “knowing” people who you don’t even know.

There’s a guy, I think he’s homeless, who I see walking about my neighborhood every day. White guy, relatively tall — probably about 6’2” — and seems to have control of all his mental capacities (EDIT: I don’t feel as strongly about this assumption after sitting next to him for two hours). I, and probably you, have seen vagrants who do unnerving stuff such as staring coldly at passerby for no apparent reason, some who talk to themselves or blurt out random things at random times. This guy who I’m talking about doesn’t do any of that.

I know he smokes cigarettes; I’ve seen and heard him bum cigarettes and “lights” off of passing smokers. They usually give it to him.

I don’t know anything about this man’s life other than what I can observe from afar; I’ve never talked to him. From his manner and appearance I don’t think he’s been homeless for a very long time. His downtrodden energy, beat-up shoes and mismatching clothes are what give him away; he doesn’t smell bad or have any of the eccentricities that make “normal” citizens wary of the homeless.

I know the man doesn’t smell bad, because there are other vagrants in the area whose smell gives them away from 20 feet away. Today I’m sitting at a Starbucks table; he’s sleeping at table next to me.

Usually in this situation, a security guard or cop would come around and shoo him away; I’ve been sitting here for over an hour and that hasn’t happened. But like I said, he doesn’t smell bad, and he’s asleep, so he’s not bothering anyone. I’ve sat here, though, and watched as residents of these high rise buildings shoot funny looks at this man in his sleep.

About 30 minutes before I wrote this, a man in navy blue hospital scrubs walked by, headed into Starbucks. He was power-walking with a serious sense of urgency, as if he were late for work and didn’t have second to waste, yet and still had too much dignity to run.

Scrubs Guy came out a few minutes later with his drink, still power-walking with vigor. He passed me briskly, glanced at the sleeping man at the table, and stopped in his tracks. He turned and went back into the Starbucks. I suspected Scrubs Guy had forgotten napkins or something.

Scrubs came back out, still at his brisk walk, and didn’t break stride as he passed this time.

On his way, though, he placed a small coffee and sugar packet on the sleeping guy’s table. About 35 minutes later, the sleeper woke up and drank it. I thought he might openly wonder where the drink had come from. He didn’t.

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