Some people say coins and bills are things of the past.
It’s part of the technological revolution. Everything is going online.
Money included. That said,
when was the last time you actually held money in your hand?
Not a check or money order.
Not a credit card, debit card, or gift card.
But actual money. The kind that gets dirty and carries the swine flu.
For me, it wasn’t that long ago.
I got paid in bills for a job I did today, so I went to the bank to make a modest deposit.
It didn’t take me long,
and I kept my shades on while I filled out the envelope.
Even at the atm machine, where I dipped my magnetic strip into the reader, I kept my shades on.
It’s not a habit. I don’t like hiding my eyes. But for some reason, today, after finishing a job and getting paid in hard cash, I felt it was necessary to keep my shades on while I went about my transaction in the bank’s foyer,
where Múm serenaded me. Here,
out of the generosity in my heart,
I give you the exact song I listened to while conducting my transaction
And so begins today’s tape show on TOE,
with Múm’s We All Have A Map Of The Piano.
I’m still at the atm machine, my shades untouched. I type in my pin,
hit enter, type in the modest amount of my hard cash deposit,
hit enter, slip the sealed envelope inside the maw of the machine,
hit finished, get my receipt, and walk out the door.
As far as I’m concerned, no one in the bank sees me except for the mechanical eyes of cameras.
And that is my intention, my plan, to remain anonymous, an unknown entity.
I turn the corner looking at my fingers, which are busy folding Citibank’s receipt, and whistling random parts of We All Have A Map Of The Piano.
That’s why I run into him, head on collision. Immediately,
he falls to the ground,
as if I were an avalanche barreling into a skimpy Evergreen.
Exactly like that.
-Are you okay?
-No! No, I’m not okay! Don’t you look where you’re walking?
-I’m sorry. I do normally look. Here, let me help you up.
-Get your hands off me! It’s those damn sunglasses you’re wearing. Who do you think you are, buddy? Some rock star? Everyone thinks they’re a damn rock star nowadays.
-Take it easy, man. It was an accident, okay. I said I was sorry.
-Don’t tell me to take it easy. Have you forgotten how hard and rough concrete is? Of course you haven’t forgotten. How can you forgot something you’ve never known? You probably have no idea how concrete really feels, buddy, you don’t know how hard and rough it really is.
-I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. I’ll never run into anyone again.
Evergreen struggles to stand upright. His pants are a little ripped around the knees,
but it looks like they were already that way.
I shake my head and consider lifting my shades.
Maybe he needs to see how sorry I am.
Evergreen is a beach bum. At first, for some reason, it wasn’t obvious.
But, now that I take a good look at him, he’s definitely a beach bum.
I can smell the salt in his orange bleached hair. I can feel
the sun’s pulse beneath his complexion, to say nothing of his need for a shower.
How many times has Evergreen been the object of someone’s sorry?
To be honest,
he doesn’t look like he knows how to receive a sorry from me
or from anyone.
He’s been living at the dregs.
Life at the dregs is very different from life even a little above it.
There’s a world of difference between living poor and living on the street.
A world of difference that cannot be fully understood without first being the victim of misfortune.
I’m thankful for staying out of misfortune’s way.
That said, I take off my shades.
Evergreen doesn’t need to know me only as a forehead, nose, and mouth.
He can see my eyes.
He deserves to see the eyes of the man who accidentally knocked him down.
They’re not the eyes of some rock star. I can show him.
Like he hasn’t been knocked down before this.
Shit, I wonder how many people have knocked Evergreen down
and not so much as bothered to show him their eyes.
Just hit and run. Just knock Evergreen down and dip.
Just get Evergreen down low enough to climb on top of his shoulders,
and then grind down into his face to better reach for life above the street,
not even bothering to take off their shades.
He doesn’t deserve to see their eyes.
That’s the way Evergreen thinks of society, I’m sure.
A bunch of inconsiderate climbers who frequent banks with their sunglasses and fill out envelopes that don’t require so much as a lick from their tongue.
But what do I know? How many beach bums have I talked with? I see them often,
huddled up in their blankets, some kind of bag at their side with the sum total of their worldly possessions,
and yet, beyond telling them I have no money or light to spare, I’ve talked with none.
-Is there anything I can do for you? Anything within reason.
-Just watch where you’re going, buddy.
-Besides that. What about coffee? Can I get you some coffee?
-Then what about food? Can I get you something to eat?
-Look, I already told you. All you have to do for me is watch where you’re going.
-I don’t buy it. You must be hungry. Wait here. I’ll be right back.
From experience, I know of a French bakery nearby that sells fresh bread daily. I buy a loaf, which is really more of a stick,
a stick of bread, and I run back to the site of the crash.
Evergreen hasn’t moved. He waited for me just like I asked,
and for some reason this surprises me.
I was expecting him to be gone. I was expecting to return to an empty corner,
a corner completely unaware of recent history, and the camera would pan out only to emphasize how gone Evergreen really was.
I guess I’m a sucker for dramatic conclusions.
But hunger is real.
::Keep it locked on TOE::