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.