Flickr user Roland

A crisp autumn morning and I’m shivering my ass off. Trying to get the gears rolling, half so I can warm up and half so I can make it to work at a decent hour, I intend on hauling ass. It’s pretty empty outside, surprisingly so, but ahead there’s some potential traffic heading the same direction as me but at half the speed. People with shopping carts taking up the sidewalk? I can deal with that– look at their life. Annoying indie-rock yuppies text messaging while they walk blind? I hope they get hit by cars. People with kids in a stroller? Okay, but they never make any effort to give ground. People with dogs or loose children? Fucking hell… The guy has to be halfway to seven feet and he’s walking with a toddler who wobbles on unsteady legs. I try to chart a course around them but little kids are notoriously tricky to predict. Whenever you’ve got to decide on which side to pass the answer for kids is the same as dogs; always head for the nearest adult and use them as a human shield.

I always get the feeling people don’t like me being around their kids which is fine because I don’t really want their kids to be around me. Actually people don’t seem to like me being around their anything and I’m not exaggerating when I say people passing me on the street have yanked children, girlfriends and whatevers closer to them so as to avoid any contact or knifing or anything else I might be capable of doing. Seeing a giant with a toddler running free on the verge of collapse is worrisome as people who are bigger than me are probably more inclined to head off potential danger directly. I remember being escorted to Hamilton playground by my sister on the 43 Masonic where my dad was going to meet us. As we were walking down Geary a homeless guy politely asked if we had any change, we said no, and he tried to thank us anyway and resume his shuffle except our dad appeared out of nowhere, screaming “Leave Them Alone” while preparing to savage this unfortunate soul. My sister assured our father we were okay which alleviated the situation but not our embarrassment.

There was no confrontation but as I weaved around the pair Mr. Giant asked, “You got a light, boss?” which was annoying but only because I hate being called Boss. I loaned him one and he rolled a spliff between his fingers commenting on the fragrance, then proceeded to tell me mornings were his favorite time to smoke. He lit up and I tried to communicate with the child who deigned not to notice me and babbled some collision of nonsense I was unable to comprehend. The lighter returned to me and I agreed with him, mornings are nice for all sorts of things. Peaceful, he says, and we nod to one another and I press on. I’m about to make the corner when he calls after me, “You know, they’re serving free food up at the church,” which I take to mean the Baptist church a block up, not the Methodist one a block up and over. I tell him I’ve got to get to work, but thanks all the same.

People have thought I’m homeless before, which I think is why he made mention of free food. It doesn’t bother me much unless someone’s trying to give me a place to stay while simultaneously telling me about how there’s a lot of creepy people out there they wanna protect me from, but that hasn’t been an issue for years. I think it was a genuinely nice suggestion by Mr. Giant, not intended as an insult– for all I know he was taking his babbling little guy up for breakfast. The entire exchange, lasting less than a minute, made for a very nice morning which was unfortunately ruined by a routine afternoon and an evening which threatened to be terrible. If these moments, these simple little gestures are what makes us happy or feel better about being people shouldn’t they be strong enough to carry an entire day?