Wednesday, June 16, 2010




1: a homeless vagabond and especially an outcast boy or girl in the streets of a city
2: a person of the lowest moral or economic station

Like myself, my friend Bobbie Sue likes to save people. We are self-proclaimed martyrs, usually to boys, or perhaps men, although, she and I are a bit different in our choosing of those who deserve saving. I prefer to seek out those who have not lived up to their full potential, not yet realized how talented or amazing they are, and I want to push them in that final step toward self-worth. Bobbie Sue tends to lean toward people who are more fucked up, down on their luck, gotten wrapped up with the wrong crowd or substances. These choices speak a lot about who she and I are ourselves—I have spent a great deal of time trying to realize my own potential, and Bobbie Sue has admittedly pulled herself out from under countless bad influences.

Now let me help you, we think, without a drop of idealism.

One day a few years ago, Bobbie Sue met a young boy in the street. He couldn't have been more than nineteen. She recognized him from Whole Foods (where we both work)—he had been coming in, wandering around like a lost puppy, tall, shaggy hair, tight jeans, ripped sneakers, picking at sample baskets, generally forlorn. He was clearly a street kid, a GUTTERSNIPE, perhaps not quite homeless, but couch-surfing or about to overstay his welcome somewhere. While this lack of self-responsibility repulsed me, Bobbie Sue saw a project, a young hopeless and clueless boy who needed her help.

When she met him in the street he had picked up one of those jobs canvassing for Mercy Corps or Greenpeace or something of equal horror. She stopped to talk to him, to offer some sympathy for his state of affairs. Only the desperate or ignorantly idealistic will take one of these jobs. Clearly he was the former. He immediately took shelter in her sympathy, offering whatever sob story he had about moving to Portland, things falling through, friends bailing out.

Oh, honey, she said, scooping him under her proverbial mother wing. She offered her adult wisdom and her number, genuinely wanting to pull him from the hole he had so woefully dug for himself. She then left his side and headed up the street to work where she relayed this story to me. She was frustrated that she had to leave his side to go to work, wanting to steal him away from his awful fate of environmental solicitation.

I, of course, had no sympathy for this fellow. My victim of choice is the socially awkward pet who works hard to no avail, not the young beauty to whom the hardness of the city has dealt a difficult hand. But I understood her impulse to help, to save, to revive from the thralls of worthlessness.

The young boy never called, and we never saw him again, in Whole Foods or on the street. Perhaps whatever abbreviated wisdom she offered him on that street corner inspired him to make a change for the better, or at least return home to the warm flannel sheets of a twin bed in his parents' house. On the other hand, some other martyr may have come along who didn't have to go to work, and taken him in and offered him a cold beer and a warm bed or at least another couch to surf for a little while longer while he put off making any real decisions.

Part of me wants to empathize with street kids, with that fuck the system ideal, but I spent my late teens and early twenties working shitty retail jobs that I hated so I could have a better life. And I do. So, I have to admit, I'm mostly thinking, fuck off lazy spoiled brats.

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