In The Mission

Mrs. Buoy

Here's something from the city that I didn't get to write earlier. I was sitting on a bench by the Blue Bottle on Linden in Hayes Valley, minding my business and watching hipsters get their single drips from this hole in the wall. (I had already gotten mine.) I had my camera out because I had been taking pictures of the scene, kind of half-assedly, when an elderly black homeless lady, who was hanging out in the alley, approached me.

"I don't appreciate that camera pointed at me," this gaunt lady told me from behind her sunglasses. She had frizzly hair and a red tank that hung on her loosely.

"Oh, absolutely," I said. "I was taking pictures of the coffee shop, I didn't photograph you."

"Yeah, I see lotta folks come take pictures of the homeless who have no idea what it's like to be on the street. I don't like that," she said. I nodded my head and sipped my coffee.

"My name is Mrs. Buoy and I'm on the street because they took my house from me illegally. I got a lawsuit going on and I'm gonna get my house back from them."

"That's rough," I offered, not really knowing where to go with this. She agreed.

We had a short exchange, and then she went back to her shopping cart a couple of yards to my right. She didn't ask for money and I didn't volunteer: somehow I felt she would have taken offense. We sat there in silence, looking at people buying and selling coffee by the cup, the afternoon sun hitting the alley at a hard angle. I finished my coffee and put my things away. As I walked my bike past her, I wished her well.

"You take care now, Mrs. Buoy."

"Thank you, young man. God bless you."

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  1. Beautifully written, J.P. The spare yet well-placed details about Mrs. Buoy and the economy of your exchange with her make the scene more powerful, palpable and ultimately more human with grace and a dignity that’s hard to capture in a scene fraught with such potential for opinion-making.

  2. fuck this dialogue drama shit and get your ass back. i need a lunch buddy.

  3. je suis la. let’s get out to lunch already!

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