Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Homeless or Shameless?

So I'm sitting in my car this morning at the Hennepin/Lyndale exit stoplight off I-94 West, and I notice a 20- or 30-something guy (I'm not so great at guessing ages) crossing the street. He's got a folded up piece of something under one arm and a dirty yellow canvas bag slung over his shoulder that looks like it was meant for laundry but he doesn't strike me as being on his way to a laundromat. The clothes he's wearing look they could use a good wash. One of Minneapolis' finest rolls by in the lane next where he's walking, and the cop in the passenger seat starts talking to the guy out his open window. The guy is walking fast like he's got somewhere to go, or at least that's how he's acting. Acting. When the cop leans out the window with a smile and says something to the guy, he first looks surprised the cops are talking to him, then his body language changes and it's like they've caught him at something, the game is up. But the cops don't stop, it's no biggie, they've had a chat and they pull away to go stop more serious evildoers. The guy stops and stands there a minute, then unfolds his thingie, which I now recognize as one of those ubiquitous homeless signs. I can't see it but it probably says something like "Homeless Please Help God Bless." He turns around and walks back the way he came, like it doesn't matter anymore where he was going. He walks under the overpass and stops, reaches down between some electrical boxes, and pulls out a black rectangle, which I recognize as another ubiquitous cultural object. It's a laptop bag. And it's not empty. He opens up his dirty yellow bag and carefully slips the black laptop inside, pulls the dirty yellow bag closed, then continues on his way.

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