Sunday, June 8, 2008

Blind Man Slim (5/18/07)

Blind Man Slim

We'll do a short one on the heels of that long one--you guys' patience have earned it, for sheeze.

Now, there are a LOT of people with lazy eyes, or glass eyes, or just plain eyes that point in the wrong direction, in New York town. I don't know if it's just cauz there are so many dang people here, or there are actually a disproportionate number of eye difficulties, but somehow I see messed up vision everywhere.

And that includes the vaunted begging community, to which I devote so much of my blogopshere.

take Blind Man Slim, or so I call him. This dude is blind as a billygoat who's had its eyes punched out by a donkey it tried to seduce. And I'm not sure he should be on the subway car. He's been doing what he's doing for a while--got his rap down cold, no doubt about it--but in all that time it hasn't resulted in him knowing the dimensions of a subway car. He's swinging that red tipped cane, that symbol to swing wide on the sidewalk if you see it coming, a signal that someone might need to be held up at a crosswalk, or given directions, or told which way is north. You have to do this for people anyway in New York--tourists are more or less blind people with fanny packs. But, yeah, he's swinging that thing like a medieval instrument of war, tapping at shins and handbags, prada gucci or value city brand alike, Blind Man Slim don't care. Everyone's a little offended and offput, and he's stepping real wide in the train car, almost like he's in some tromping dance, in old ass Nike Air Jordans, the red and black ones--they have those new ones, and those new old ones in ugly glaring highlighter eighties greens and purples and yellows, but these ain't them; these are ancient heirloom artifacts. He's got no socks on, just those, and I can see the curly leg hairs poke out of his skinny ankles as he makes his way talking through the car, one hand waving the stick and the other fingering a plastic cross necklace.

"Everybody, I know, I know. Everybody, you know, I believe in work. No reason to take a handout if there's work you can do, and if you can see, you should work. I'll work. You tell me to paint something, I'll do it. I don't need to see. If I miss a spot, you put a piece of tape there, I"ll come back and paint it. See I memorize the shapes of things, so I don't need any sight for certain work, but most people won't hire, so ladies and gentlemen, if you can find it in your hearts..."

And I think to myself there's something not right here. I realize what it is: the dude's got no pouch, no sack, no frying pan, no nothing, to hold the change. He's got no receptacle, and his hands are full! fact is he really doesn't slow down long enough to take any money from people, and doesn't seem to care if anybody's giving him any money. He gets to the end of the car, holds his hands up to the sky, and starts mumbling a prayer to himself that seems a little bit druidic, like he should have a big hood to wear to say it.

Two people pinned behind him struggle by in anticipation of the next stop, and wanting a more quiet ride. I about laugh at one guy who nearly gets Blind Man Slim's nappy ass hair stuck in his mouth as he tries, unsuccessfully, to glide past in a smooth escape.

The prayer turns into a soliloquy:

"It used to make me angry when people'd bump into me and not say excuse me. Cauze, you know, I"m a person. I may be blind but I'm a person, too, and I deserve common courtesy, don't I? But it don't bother me no more, no no, cauz you see I just let it go, I know there's people who won't even acknowledge you out there, I know they're out there, and see, I see more than them, I see they don't see, but that's OK. I pray that they thank God for their blessings, for their sight, for their priveleges..." This is REALLY bothering the guy who almost got the hair in his mouth, I can tell.

"Say, brother," he's turned away from two guys who have been talking right behind him the whole time. "which way do the doors open?"

"You got it right, brother."

"Alright, then."

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