Monday, March 30, 2009

Confessions of Your Friendly Neighborhood Asshole.

Earlier tonight Anise and myself went to a neighborhood place to get a burrito. There was a guy begging outside the door. He asked if we could buy him a taco. I said no, sorry, we couldn't. Once inside, I looked up at the menu and saw that tacos were only a couple bucks. I certainly could have bought him one. But there was something about his desperate, whining insistence that made me not want to buy him a taco. Maybe if he had had a different voice, a different face, had been a woman I would have bought him a taco. I don't know. But I didn't like the feel of him and didn't want to buy him a taco.

The other night I was walking home after renting a movie and I was stopped at a corner, waiting for the light to change. Beside me stood an older man with a walker. He was holding on to the walker and leaning back really far, in a strange sort of way. It didn't seem like the walker should have been holding him up. But he didn't ask for help, or seem to be in any trouble, so I didn't pay much attention. A moment later he fell to the ground, nearly taking me with him.

I helped him up, which took a while, got him back on his walker and helped him make his way back on to the sidewalk. Even this took quite a few minutes. I finally got him settled and he seemed to be okay, and started making his way with tiny, nearly imperceptible movements forward. A literal snail's pace. He said he only had a few more blocks to go. The way he was moving, a few blocks would have been three hours, at least. But he wasn't falling over, so I left him there. There was a part of me that felt I should have called him a cab or something, but I just headed home. I had things to do.

In theory, I truly want to be better and kinder to my fellow human beings, but in reality, more often than not they just make me nervous and generally uncomfortable. Most of them I just want to get away from, especially if they are in need. I am just not good with people. I mean, I'm not a complete asshole. I do assist random folk in need as long as it does not inconvenience me too much, or if they are somewhat attractive. One thing I do is give away money to strangers perhaps more often than I should. Giving money away I don't mind so much, even though most months we barely make rent. Assuages some of the the guilt, I suppose.

There's the few lines from Barfly:
"Do you hate people?"
"Hate them? No, I just seem to feel better when they're not around..."

I remember a friend telling me about a time one evening when he was in a parking lot and saw a man that had seemingly fallen out of his wheelchair. My friend's instinct was to pretend he didn't notice and keep going about his business, but there was someone else that saw that he saw that the man had fallen out of his wheelchair, so my friend felt the social pressure to go help the man, even though he really didn't want to. He felt anger at being forced into an uncomfortable and awkward situation when he just wanted to go about his business. I understood this and I felt for him.

This, in turn, reminds me of a time years ago; some friends and I were drinking at the Hotel Padre(RIP) in Bakersfield, and there was a guy in a wheelchair, a Vietnam vet, if I recall correctly. Or he said he was. He was loud, obnoxious and kept begging drinks. And then he "danced" in his wheelchair for the rest of the night, spinning around, and popping wheelies and whatnot. I remember not being particularly happy with his presence.

When we left the bar it was raining, and we were very drunk. I was driving us home, and just a ways down the road from the bar there was the wheelchair guy, his chair tipped over off the sidewalk. He was spilled out into the gutter, rain pouring down upon him, the wheels of his upsidedown wheelchair slowly spinning. My friend pointed him out as we sped on by, both of us laughing uncontrollably, tears running down our cheeks.

Moments later there were sirens and coplights in the rearview and I ended up spending the night in the drunk tank.

The point, Bill, the point?

Can't rightly say.

Good night.


  1. Christ Bill, you pinned me for what I am. I appreciate that, especially now, underslept and understimulated on a hazy Monday morning.

  2. Being a kind-er person in your neighborhood? You'd never get home.
    But I do agree. Some folks need a bit more help than others.
    A weighted scale it is.

  3. seems like you got the point precisely, my man...

    it's why me and the girl always seek a quiet place with a lot of wide space between us and them, preferably with a mountain and thick forest filling in that wide's just better to be as far away from the human animal, most of the time, as is possible.

    the balance between kindness and madness is well nigh impossible to strike sometimes.

  4. All right, all right, good grief, can I just send you cash for Words for Songs Never Written? I guess I've got to get in with the hip gang if I'm going to get anywhere. Address?

    Pity can be a like a disease. Nietzsche thought it was one of the main problems with modern people. It's just not natural, not too much anyway. The thing is, it's not natural for normal, unwounded, healthy people to have pity. To a healthy person a sick person is disgusting, you just want to get away from them. But for people who have been down and out themselves, or sick themselves, a certain amount of pity is inevitable, I think. I toss a bill to a bum if he looks like he needs it and I have it. But, I work with sick people every day, driving them to and from the doctor in a cab, and some people choose to live on pity, which is dispicable to be around.

    Seriously, I like your stuff and would like to get a hold of that book. Mather Schneider