Tonight, down in the bowels of Powell Street station, a very skinny woman with wild hair and wilder eyes was talking with a man. Talking at him, more accurately, because he had that polite but uncomfortable “mm-hmm” face. The thought bubble above his head read “Please, god, get me out of here.”
She wanted money and, as you might guess, he did not want to give any to her. “Give me a dollar and I’ll go away,” she bellowed. She had a voice like a dying bullhorn. He tried to reason with her. “Gimme a dollar!” she continued. His train arrived and he darted away.
The woman slowly spun around on her bird-legs, her glazed eyes scanning the crowd of people. The trains were running late (thanks, MUNI) so the platform was more crowded than usual. As she made her way toward the bench where I was sitting, I stood up real casual-like and quietly walked about 10 feet away. It felt like backing off from a puma while wearing a coat made of filet mignon.
The woman accosted two more people before coming my way. She almost didn’t; she walked past me, then turned back to begin her pitch. She stood maybe 18 inches away from me, a little closer than I like most people to be. Up close, her face was even sadder. It was gaunt, deeply wrinkled, and pained. There was an inch-wide gap where four of her bottom teeth should have been. Even covered with a layer of glassiness, the bright blue of her eyes hinted at past beauty.
Here we go, I thought. (more…)