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HAIGHT STREET ENCOUNTER

By Jeffrey Zable

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Walking along a side street I see this woman up ahead

lying against a wall, surrounded by garbage: milk cartons,

cereal boxes, food cans, rotten fruit, pieces of plastic,

rags, soiled clothing, etc.

 

Probably in her late twenties, she’s emaciated, has a shaved head,

and washed-out tattoos on her arms and face.

 

I’ve seen pitiful many times in the Haight, but I’m thinking

that she raises the bar considerably.

 

Opening my wallet and taking out a five and three ones,

I slowly walk up to her, bend over and say, “Please use this

to get something to eat.”

 

Taking the bills and then looking up at me, she responds,

“I’ll get some ice cream. I haven’t eaten ice cream in a long time!”

 

“What flavor will you get?” I ask, and she answers, “I’ll see what

they have, but I’ll probably get a combo of chocolate, vanilla,

and strawberry, which is what I used to get as a kid.”

 

Now feeling a knot of sadness in my stomach, I tell her,

“That sounds good to me!”

 

And as I turn to leave, she says, “Thanks mister. You made my day!”

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