On the Street

The other day I left the office around three to stretch my legs and get a decaf. I always get sleepy around 3 pm and I usually wake up at 3 am. My circadian rhythm I guess. I rounded a corner and a woman was speaking very loudly, I assumed it was into the phone that she held at arm’s length. She took a step towards me.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I know everyone walking by thinks I’m crazy ’cause I’m talking so loud to no one but I gotta get it outta my system. I’m so mad at my boyfriend. So mad!”

She was wearing a photo ID on a lanyard so I thought she must work nearby and probably wasn’t any crazier than the rest of us.

She told me her boyfriend had asked her for money and she’d told him they had to talk about it later as she was visiting her brother in jail.

“He wants $600. I don’t have that kind of money. He’s always askin’ me for money.”

Is she going to ask me for $600??

“And it hurts me. It really hurts me. I told my brother and he said for me to text my boyfriend and tell him that maybe I can come up with the money, said he’d get back to me right away most likely. And didn’t that happen! Within a half hour, textin’ me back, axin when, when can we talk. It makes me mad cause with him, it’s always about money. He always needs some.”

Mmmmm. I don’t know what to say. And I thought no phones were allowed when you visit people in jail but I’m not sure as I’ve never made such a visit.

“He’s my brother’s friend. My brother set us up, thought we’d be a good match and now he’s mad at him too – thinks he’s not treatin’ me right. He sure ain’t!”

I guess she just wants me to listen?

“Why don’t just you let him have it?” I asked.

“On no. Can’t do that. I want him to pick me up after work. Don’t wanna have to take the bus.”

“So will he be here soon?” I asked.

“Oh no. I haven’t started my shift yet.

No wonder she wants a ride. Her shift must end around midnight and it will be deserted around here.

“You’ll work it out. You take care,” I said, walking slowly away.

She nodded as I picked up my pace.

She was black. I am white. She was young. I am old-er. She had a boyfriend. I have a wife. She had a brother in jail. I don’t know anyone in jail but I once had a boyfriend who spent some time in jail decades ago. Didn’t tell me when he was in so I never tried to visit. Maybe he was in for the same reason as her boyfriend. Don’t know.

I wondered why she had been talking to me and I thought she’s my mirror. She was feeling a need to express herself, to help her figure things out, so she talked to anyone who was walking by. I write it out. She knows she is talking to complete strangers. I might be too or maybe I’m just be writing to myself. Same thing. Right?

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