I felt like a fool, like St. Francis of Assisi, 
who was a fool for Christ, 
wandering the streets in the Tenderloin District, 
taking the chance of being robbed or worse. 
I was angry when the man whom I was treating 
to a cup of coffee and a burrito at Carl’s, Jr. 
said “Get back from the counter 
and let the people in back of you order” 
when I was demanding the bean burrito 
which had not come with the coffee. 
I could have teased him, 
“You know a lot about restaurants, don’t you.” 
I was also angry when the woman 
on the sidewalk with a brown blanket 
whom I offered to treat to a cup of coffee said, 
“I don’t need anything, Get away from me!” 
I said, “OK” and left. But maybe I could have 
provoked a conversation with her 
by saying, “But I care about you.” 
I felt like asking a police officer, who was 
apparently walking a beat in the UN Plaza, 
what he thought of 
the yellow-tape barriers around the fountain. 
But I decided not to risk a question 
and so never found out what he really felt. 
I think of all the interesting conversations 
I could have had! 

Maureen Hartmann was a longtime contributor to Street Spirit. She died in January, 2019.