John's story reminded me of myself, only how I am quite the opposite.
My freshman year of college I was driving to my 8 a.m. class. For some reason I took 16th Street Parade* and wish I hadn't. I approached a stop sign where a mini van was taking their sweet ass time. I then realized that there was something, or someone in front of them. When they sped off I saw what was holding them and me up. It was a homeless man. He had no legs and was in a wheelchair.
Being the person that I am, I stopped - that, and I would have hit him with my car. It was cold. I rolled down my window and in he comes. The Black man had all of two teeth and smelled of alcohol. He kept repeating himself. I thought he was asking if I could take him to the Hippopotamus Cafe. After three minutes of trying to understand him I broke the news on how he wouldn't be able to ride in my car because I have never transported someone in a wheelchair before. Then he yelled, 'No!'
I was taken back a bit by his anger. Why was he getting mad at me? I was only trying to help. By this time there were about five cars behind me. He then said he wanted money. I said, 'Oh, I thought you wanted me to take you somewhere - and I've never heard of the Hippopotamus Cafe.'
He was basically hanging on my car. His arms grasping the inside of my door. I told him I didn't have any cash on me, but I did have debit. I'm not sure why I told him that. I think I felt bad for not carrying cash. I tried to justify myself to someone hanging on my car drunk and rocking two teeth. I apologized, rolled up my window and drove off. I looked in the rearview mirror to see him pester the person behind me.
*The 16th Street Parade is quite a fine show. It only takes place in the summer. The brothers and sisters of 16th Street flood the front porches and streets, sometimes making it difficult to drive through. The hot spot is the gas station that one would never stop at. You see children eating the week-old hot dogs and drinking big gulp sodas.
At night, 16th Street Parade can get out of control. On coming home off the Lake Street exit (something my mom always told me not to do) I had to detour off the main road and take side streets. What I discovered was more 16th Street Parades - only on different streets. These parades were much larger and had many more people. Girls with up-do's (so up that they hit the ceiling of their cars) and long finger nails. Men who are shirtless with their jeans neatly tucked inside their Timberlands. They gave me the stare down. The type of glare that said, 'White boy, you know you're not supposed to be here.'
And from that glance on, I have yet to return to the side-street parades.