Tea with old neighbors
When I was a kid, there were a couple houses on the next block I could visit to knock on the door, be invited in, sit on the couch, visit with elderly people, and be served tea and cookies. It was nice to be welcomed anywhere, of course, but I suspect much of the attraction of these check-ins for a kid came down to the free tea and cookies on offer at any time of day.
As I write this, in view of the heavily scheduled activities and stranger dangers of our current age, I appreciate that it sounds like I grew up in the 1830s.
When I think of it from an elderly person’s perspective, though, it was probably nice to be living alone and have a neighbor kid come by to keep you company. Sure, maybe he’s secretly angling for tea and cookies, but he’s willing to sit and talk awhile, too. And there’s something simple and reassuringly quaint in knowing that all he’s angling for is tea and cookies. You don’t have to worry about him trying to get you to wire $75,000 to a bank in Cyprus or something.
What do the elderly people with their tea and cookies do now?
A break in the case?
In the case of the 12 used, empty paper coffee cups with holders left behind in the public parking lot, a potential lead has surfaced. First, let me explain that although the one time with 12 cups was notable, I routinely find 4-6 cups in the same area. Today, I realized that the only sizable group I’ve seen hanging out near that exact spot more than once is… the landscape maintenance crew contracted by the city for upkeep of the lot, as they mill around their parked trucks on break. Could it be that the very people charged with maintaining the lot are in the habit of sullying it with coffee break trash? Plot twist. If so, my All the President’s Men-style investigative report on this matter will rattle this sleepy city to its core.
I don’t have conclusive proof yet, but I better start researching how to do a citizen’s arrest just in case.
Me with hat, gloves, bucket, trash claw on a foggy morning.
Two men walking toward me, 50s-ish and 70s-ish, dressed as though they golf or at least saw a golfer on TV once and thought “Yes, that’s the look for us.”
As our paths cross near a reusable shopping bag full of what looks like clothing, 50s-ish man says to me “Looks like you just hit the jackpot. I bet there’s even a sandwich in there.” The prospect of which, as I judge from his tone, should be very thrilling to me. I am not, however, in the habit of dining from bags found on sidewalks. Nor am I, even as a picker-upper of trash, one to mess with people’s stuff. Trash looks like trash: discarded, strewn about. This is a neat package. These look like belongings. Perhaps someone will be back around to get them.
I manage a halfhearted “Huh, wonder what’s in there” in reply and walk right past.
After we part ways, I process the interaction. Obviously, he probably thought I was an indigent person. I am not insulted by the assumption, as 90% of the time, at this time of day in this part of town, he probably would have been right. What puzzles me is, why the bit about the sandwich? Who thinks “I’ll bet there’s a sandwich in there” when they see an abandoned bag of clothing? And who gets a presumed starving person’s hopes up for a sandwich without any indication that one will be forthcoming?
Unless… had he planted the bag there himself, then pretended to “discover” it and point it out to me as some grand Christmas gesture? This almost makes me want to go back and see if the guy is still there, walking circles and casually pointing the bag out to each person with whom his path intersects, and if its contents consist of a hoagie wrapped in old golf clothes.
In lieu of sidewalk hoagies
If you find yourself with a surplus of holiday cash and would like to help keep this site chugging along into 2022, you can drop me a couple bucks here. Tea and cookies aren’t free, and I now lack the cuteness and harmlessness that once enabled me to obtain them by knocking on neighbors’ doors.
Off next week, maybe
I don’t imagine that anyone will be staring longingly at their inbox, waiting for a new post by me, on the sole weekend day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so I might take next Sunday off. If so, I shall see you in the new year. Please be well.