Every morning, glancing out the front window, I’d see these curious-looking, silent oddballs – neighbors, I guess – walking down the sidewalk with one hand holding a plastic grocery bag filled with hot dog shit, the other hand holding a dog straining at his leash. Without realizing it was happening, I’m now one of these curious-looking, silent oddballs, walking down the street with one hand holding a plastic grocery bag filled with hot Weimaraner shit, the other hand holding Abbie, straining at her leash.
I say hello to a few of them as we pass. The woman with the painfully overweight Dalmatian. I’ve also waved at the old fella wearing a knit Tibetan skull cap, the guy who lives at the end of the road. In the fall he’s obsessively raking leaves, even those on his neighbors’ tree lawns, and the leaves falling from the trees across the street. In the winter he’s clearing his sidewalk and driveway after the slightest of snowfalls. I’ve even seen him snow-blowing the street. He never waves back. He may have interpersonal communication issues. But he keeps his end of the street tidy.
The other morning, Abbie hit the jackpot. A McDonald’s bag was lying in the street, and inside was a full box of cold French fries. She nosed the bag open and started wolfing down the fries, mindful that I am prone to snatch that kind of treat away from her. I didn’t. I let her finish. It was her lucky morning.
As I was picking up the now-empty bag, a garbage truck turned onto the street. We stepped onto the grass. The driver slowed, leaned out of his cab and pointed at the back of his truck. I flipped the empty McDonald’s bag and the plastic bag of dog shit into the truck and waved thanks.
The No. 1 bus was on time that morning. Another two or so miles closer to downtown, after the 20 or so Laotians got on, and it was standing room only. The bus stopped again and someone exited from the side door. A woman entered through the side door. You’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to get on in front and slip your $1, or your bus pass, into the collecting machine. But the bus aisle was packed, the side door was right in front of her, so she climbed on board.
She stood there for a second. I think she was wondering if maybe she didn’t have to pay. That maybe she might catch a break today. Most of the people on the No. 1, especially the ones who get on board in this neighborhood, look like $1 is a lot of money to them. After a few seconds, a slight murmur moved through the bus. I guess the driver was asking for her dollar. She looked down at her purse and kind of fumbled for the opening.
“That’s all right, ma’am,” said a guy standing in the aisle. “We got ya.” He’d pulled a buck out of his own pocket and passed it up to the driver. It was a really tiny but decent thing to do. And it looked like $1 was a lot of money to him as well.
The bus lurched on. I started to think about Mitt Romney. I wondered, if Romney was in that guy’s place, would he have thought to make such a nice gesture?
I decided he wouldn’t have done so. A dollar means nothing to the rich.