She was having both sides of a heated argument.
She muttered something.
She snapped at that.
She locked in on a sentence to repeat it over and over again.
She interrupted that thought.
She went from being two people to one person to more than a few by the time I was done putting money in the meter.
Her camp was set outside the USPS parking lot on Cherokee. You could barely call that a camp though. Some of them at least have a proper tent. Under the bridges, I’ve seen handwashing stations, proper sofas, sometimes even bookshelves and decorations. All she had was a blue tarp and a bunch of large black trash bags lumpishly tossed together. Maybe she had it better than some, but certainly worse than most. She disappeared below the pile of dirty plastic materials as I pushed the stroller past her, along with my Dog who sleeps on more cushions at night.
I had this urge to say something like: “Ma’am, could I ask for your help by any chance?” I felt that putting her in a position where someone needs her help might actually revive something in her. Being needed is what keeps a human person sane. Being needed was taken from her. We drive around town so sure that we will never fall that far but that’s just denial. The human mind is quite fragile. Especially if it is not kept busy.
I came back to my car to feed the meter. He was sitting against the pole. I parked the stroller nearby. Kept my Dog close. I didn’t worry he’d do anything to the baby. I leaned over him to feed the meter. An “excuse me” came to my lips, but didn’t come out.
Later as I was leaving he was no longer sitting at the meter. I didn’t think to look whether she was gone as well. I couldn’t think of anything that I could use her help with anyway.