Friday, April 27, 2007

Arrogance and Homelessness: discuss

I just don't understand the Berkeley Bum. At the gas station yesterday a homeless and obviously deranged man approached me, tried to make light conversation, and then started into his "o pity me" speech before I simply said "no" and turned away. He then began to berate me for giving him "attitude" and pointing his gnarled finger accusingly like I had done him an injustice before i loudly demanded he stop harassing me. He went, cursing me under his breath, but it got me thinking. I was a captive audience for him. The gas nozzles at this filling station didn't have locks, so the pumper is required to stand and hold the handle until the tank is full. I couldn't really walk away to get him to stop bothering me--i'd have to first close up my tank, complete the sale, get into the car, and start driving without finishing what i'd come there to do. Nor could I effectively ignore him--he was going to keep trying to guilt me until i either left, yelled at him, or gave him what he wanted. I'd much rather pump my gas in peace than spend the entire time pretending i can't hear a human voice talking to me two feet from my face. In effect, he forced me to raise my voice at him in order to otherwise remain calm.

Fact is, gas stations are private property. As a panhandler/non-customer, he was blatantly trespassing. Not that anyone cares, but as a legitimate customer of a legitimate business I feel I have the right to enjoy a few blissful seconds out of doors without being harassed by a tramp. That's the big problem with this area--the bums are omnipresent and insistent, and frequently border on dangerous. Several sociologists have suggested that this state exists because the weather is nice and the locals are generous--bums are encouraged to not only hang around, but expect a tithe from every passer-by. Somehow the wealthy of this area have given panhandlers a sense of entitlement to the money of others, which they've done nothing to earn and will do nothing worthwhile with. Y'know, thousands of people are immigrating to this country via desperate and deadly means to work hard and earn a pittance--people with fewer opportunities in life than your average Berkeley street bum. Who out of the two deserves my sympathy? But who is asking for it?

Some of the Berkeley Bums are genuinely nuts--probably have been their entire lives. These people are pathetic and ought to be fed and made comfortable by the state. But most are junkies who blame their addictions and dumpster-diving lifestyles on everyone except themselves. In many situations the equation in their heads really is as mind-numbing as "this girl has money. I do not have money. She won't give it to me. She is a cunt." The more vindictive bums in this area even knows how to keep themselves constantly assured of this mindset--they hang out by ATMs and outside grocery stores and bicker at the customers with a self-righteous indignation seen elsewhere only among throngs of early teenagers and during Republican rallies. The accusation "I know you got money there--why won't you share it with me?" rings in the ears of everyone who makes a transaction downtown (unless they've jammed their audio wavelength with headphones). Its always best to pretend you didn't hear it and keep walking, but inside you know everyone is shouting "Because i earned it, dammit!"

I have several mortal fears in life. Two of the biggest ones are Poverty and Desk Jobs. Unfortunately, it is my aversion toward the latter that keeps me perpetually on the verge of the former, and I've been forced to realize that I must eventually choose to embrace one to avoid the other. I don't have any "spare change" okay? I don't have any change to spare. I put gas in my car so I can get to work, which doesn't pay me enough to keep filling my tank, so I'm working at a constant loss. And when tramps try to guilt me with their "i'm just trying to get out of town" and "i'm just trying to get on my feet" garbage it makes me want to be ill on them. No, I'm trying to get on my feet. See the struggle? See me putting in long, hard hours and earning less than you, trampy? See me nearly breaking under the strain and crying myself to sleep from the effort? Do you see how I'm trying to get on my feet while you are trying to take advantage of society as a whole, and in particular the Pavlovian guilt reflex of the religious? If you're going to be a bum, tell people "i'm a bum. My brain is burned out on such a complex heap of drugs that I can't even identify what I crave anymore. I hate the world and I hate the position in life I've reached, but i'm either unable or unwilling to do anything to change it. I have done nothing to earn your money or respect, but I want it, so if you're willing to part with it, i'll take it." Don't insult the working class by trying to identify with us.

I'm...erm...drunk. Sorry if this is nonsensical.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

not exciting

you notice that when you've been drinking, somehow not only is the present disoriented and blurry, but your memory is too? thinking is distinctly discouraged in this state. just as well, really.

i've done little of note in the past month, and my opinions are nothing if not redundant. i apologize for disappointing any hopeful or regular reader. i have nothing to say.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

shouting match

when cell phones were first invented, their sound quality was poor, the microphones were tinny, and their connections so intermittent that users on both ends of a conversation found themselves plugging one ear and just shouting into the handset in order for their points to be communicated.

now we have cell phones that present the subtle crescendos and key changes in classical music, are used to record concerts, and have reliable enough connections to set a clock to. so of course, we as humans, never satisfied with communicating courteously, simply crank up the handsfree, put the cell phone six feet away, and shout at it.

No, i really Don't want to be subjected to both ends of your conversation on Suzy's biopsy results from fifty feet away, up a staircase, and behind two closed doors. Please allow me to not hear you.