flummery: (hat 2)
About a week ago... okay, last Monday actually, a guy living in his car parked on the street in front of the building where I work. I had to walk past him every day to get to work, and when I realized what I was seeing I felt bad. Bad in that "I'm always bitching about my life, and you never know how good you've really got it" sort of way. Bad because of that fear one gets that somehow that's going to end up being you, and the belief that you should be doing something to help. Bad because even though I felt that way, I wasn't going to stop and talk to this guy, or give him money, in that way that society teaches us to be afraid of strange men and the homeless, sort of way.

On Tuesday, the car was still there, full of apparently every item this guy owned, and a few other things he'd scrounged, like cardboard to cover the windows, and aluminum foil to reflect the sun back and keep the heat out. I noticed it all but did that avert-your-eyes thing to not actually look at the guy sitting in his car.

On Wednesday, the whole scenario started to slide off of my guilt-meter, and onto my this-is-getting-fuckin'-weird meter. The car had been there for three days now, in the same spot. It was now half covered with a sheet. Now, understand, I work in Harvard Square, close enough to Harvard Square to be able to *say* I work in Harvard Square. Space is at a premium, and parking spaces are not come by lightly. There are 1/2 hour, 1 hour, and 2 hour parking meters everywhere. Our street is covered in 2 hour parking meters, and they are strictly enforced. You stay in a spot more than 2 hours, you get a ticket. If you're still there in another two hours, another ticket. You rack up enough tickets, they boot you (an actual clamp on your wheel til the towtruck arrives). This guy had been in the same spot now for three days, and I hadn't seen a single ticket, an irate meter maid, or any police intervention. I began to question how he was getting away with this, bad though I felt about his homeless state.

On Thursday, he put out lawn furniture behind his car. Two of those nice chairs of the type you take to the beach, with plenty of room to stretch out the legs.

On Friday, when I walked past, he was lying back smoking a cigar in said lawn furniture, and a recorder (of the flute type nature) had been jammed into the front grill of the vehicle, pointing outward as though the car were feeling musically inclined.

On Sunday, my uncle called to inform me that the guy had done his laundry and hung all his clothing out to dry along the railings by Johnny's Diner. Oh, and he'd used the area in front of Johnny's -- below street level, but in front of the glass window where the diner patrons sit, as his dressing room. Johnny, rather perturbed on behalf of said patrons, had called the police, but they had not responded.

This morning, when I arrived for work, an actual shelter was under construction. And by this, I mean the sort of thing you would expect to see if you discovered a person trying to survive while stranded on an island in the Pacific. The neighborhood trees, puny as they are, had apparently given several of their lives to help fence in the lawn furniture. The roof of the shelter had not yet gone up, but the walls were looking pretty good.

I went out around three, all hopeful about seeing how it was going and... the whole shebang was gone. Sigh. It was actually sort of fun while it lasted, seeing how much he could get away with.

September 2015

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