Friday, January 26, 2007

post office

The fair mother city has two post offices. The downtown branch has the most interesting, thus enjoyable clientele, so they usually get my business as opposed to the PO in Little Dallas (aka Abilene’s south side).

The federal building which contains the downtown PO takes up the entire northeast block at Pine and N. 3rd. This facility was originally built in the 1930’s (I think) so it has some fairly ornate structure that is absent from most buildings in the fair mother city.

Such as the front steps.

The main entry to the building (by N. 3rd) that faces Pine Street has these grandiose but short series of steps. Like a mini version of those seen on the Supreme Court, NYC apartments or Sesame Street.

For as long as I’ve resided in the fair mother city (since 1989...half my life) these steps have been a notorious venue for the homeless, desperate, panhandlers, and those deemed “undesirable”.

Back in my college days of the early 90’s, there was some mentally handicapped guy who sat on these steps all day and sold newspapers. His sales approach was hilarious. He’d single someone out of a crowd, usually the least confident person, and yell, “hey...HEY” over and over until they paid attention to him. It was funny.

Even my all-time favorite curmudgeon of the streets Momo has been known to camp out on the steps to offer his bird flipping abilities and personalized insults to postal customers.

But mostly, whenever one approaches the downtown PO and sees a quasi desperate-looking person by the steps, you know that person is asking for cash.

One woman once asked me for cash to buy herself some feminine products. Which totally caught me off guard since I was ready to find her food since that’s usually why people ask for money. “What? You want...tampons?”

But the mildly disturbing thing about the downtown PO is the handicap entrance. More specifically: the non-handicapped people like me who often who use it.

It’s located about 25 feet from the main entry facing N. 3rd. So...It’s near the main entry, but around the corner.

I’ve witnessed numerous perfectly healthy, non-handicapped people use the handicap ramp entry to blatantly avoid the panhandlers.

It’s kind of pathetic, but such is life. I’ve done this myself on occasion. Enter the building the easy way without having to face the reality of poverty and desperate-ness.

Help me CEO.


Anonymous said...

Did you help the lady with the tampons? She approached my husband and we just happen to have some in our car. We had just come from a grocery store. When he offered them to her she turned them down and quickly left. I also have another friend she approached in a church building and my friend had some in a small pantry closet. When they were offered to her she turned them down and left. Just wondering how better to help.

Agent B said...

Did you help the lady with the tampons?

I remember asking her if she was for real or just playing a game. She started breaking down like she was about to throw a huge emotional crying fit. I'm pretty sure she has some kind of mental problem, so I gave her a buck or two...since that's what she asked for.

Just wondering how better to help.

I refuse to blog on the subject of panhandling because there is no cookie-cutter answer or response.

Well maybe Peter & John's "silver and gold have I none..." response to the beggar in Acts 3 should be cookie-cutter. I'd love to see her free of these mental demons.

But in this case...I had silver and gold (a couple of bucks). And that's what she asked for.

I haven't seen her since. But I've heard of others being approached by the tampon lady.

Miller said...

i think the closest thing to a "cookie cutter" answer is to have no "cookie cutter" answer...

and i hope that this lady's response to an offer of tampons rather than money doesn't automatically make her dishonest. it could be she'd be ashamed to take a box-o-tampons from a stranger in public...

i don't know

but i can honestly say i believe the right answer is to do a for real heart check every time before answering or acting... my experience is that this is where i'll find the answer

its where Jesus seems to speak to me most.

and sometimes the answer is "hell no"

but sometimes its not...