As I walked through Public Square and approached Key Tower, a man clad in rags rounded the corner of the building and approached me. He lit like a lamp. I glanced at his shoes. They were made of leather or suede, faded a bit, but in remarkably good shape, considering the conditions.
“Hey! I remember you!” he yelled and came towards me, hand outstretched. I shook it.
“Yeah, man!” I said. “Hey, I’m on my way to work. It was good to see you!”
“Alright! Good to see you!” he yelled.
I kept on toward the Mall, knowing the whole time that this was the hustle.
I know you.
Hate to do this.
I’m trying to catch the bus.
I need to buy my baby some Similac.
I just want a sandwich.
Per the signs lining the sidewalks of downtown, I ‘Don’t Give Where It Can’t Help,’ and usually provide the manufactured response, “I’m sorry sir,” when accosted. If particularly moved, I will buy food for those who admit they really need it. But I check the shoes; if a person can afford nice shoes, there is a good chance that all is not as it seems.
I rounded the corner of Key Tower and the wind from the lake hit me. From behind, the rags man yelled toward some other pedestrian in Public Square:
“Hey! I remember you!”