Ever and Always
Chapter 6: On the Street - June 15, 2021

Copyright© 2015 by Banadin

Rick's day was more adventuresome; He dressed in his only outfit and walked outside. Again, he did this like he had every right and once more no one second guessed him. He walked around the block slowly taking note of the panhandlers. Most of them appeared to be burn outs with nothing on their mind but the next fix or drink.

One very rough looking black man in his forties seemed more ambitious than the others. Most stood with a cup and handwritten sign hoping for change from cars at stop lights.

This young man (at least to Rick) had a rag and spray bottle. He would walk up to a car and spritz the windshield. The driver would then have the choice of turning his wipers on or letting the man use his rag. It was often a race of rag versus wiper.

When the rag won the man would hold a Styrofoam cup up to the car window. About seventy-five percent of the time he received some change and occasionally a dollar bill.

Rick watched this for half an hour then approached the man when the light went green and traffic was moving. "Do you mind if I ask how do you get a job like this?"

"The man gave him a bitter look," and said, "Easy, do twenty years of hard time for a stupid mistake, and no one to help when you get out."

"Ouch," said Rick, "I don't think I want to go that path, besides I don't think I could last twenty."

"The man laughed in his booming voice and asked, "What's your name."

"Rick and what is yours?"

"Charles, now what is your real question?"

"Straight to the point Charles," replied Rick. "I need to raise several hundred dollars, so I can buy some clothes to apply for a real job."

"It should take you about a week to do that," Charles told him.

"A week, you make several hundred dollars a week?"

"Yeah and I only work about six hours a day and never in the rain."

"Well I can see why never in the rain," Rick said drily. "So I just set up on a corner and do what you are doing?"

"Rick my man it is not that simple. You have to be careful not to take some ones territory, or it could get bad real quick. No disrespect, but you don't look like the man you must have been."

"You have that right, how do I avoid that?"

"Simple watch an area several days, if no one shows up it is yours. It wouldn't hurt if you scouted who was working the area. Then go the Salvation Army Mission next block down at dinner time. Ask them about the area you are eyeing and see if they have any problems."

"Rick you will be surprised, but most of the people out on the street aren't the wastes that people think. They will appreciate your asking and trying to avoid trouble. Some of them will even tell you good areas to try. Once you have decided who to approach point them out to me, and I will tell you if they are safe. There are several that are truly insane and dangerous to be near. You usually can tell but not always."

"Charles, I cannot thank you enough," Rick replied, "I am going to follow your suggestions."

"Keep in touch, let's do lunch, have your people call my people," Charles said in his deep booming voice.

Rick chuckled back, "Right. Thanks again and see you soon."

At dinner that night Rick shared what happened with Marsha. She was not thrilled with him being a street beggar, but thought it was as good of a plan as any. She refused to believe the amount of money Charles said he could make.

"Rick the man was bragging but even so, if in less than a month you could buy some decent clothes to work at McDonald's it could work out."

"I don't see any other options right now, so I'm going to give it a try."

"Enough about me, how did your day go?"

"Not bad Rick, I have been filing and answering the phones. I think I am being accepted. Silvia and Ruth asked me to join them on their coffee break."

"That's good Marsha, well done." Marsha smiled at the compliment.

The next week was spent in their daily routine of being self-sufficient inside the rest home. Silvia even joked that Marsha was doing so well that she might put her in for a pay raise. She was thinking of doubling her salary, of course twice zero was still zero. The women had a good laugh at that.

Rick explored the area and found one street two blocks over that seemed to be okay. It was a surface road with four lanes, two in each direction with a turn lane on the main road. The traffic light cycled every two minutes.

He would have to hustle to get one car in two minutes. Since there were two minutes of red and then green he would have a row of cars every four minutes or fifteen tries an hour for money. He discounted yellow for his simple estimate.

If he could average fifteen cars an hour at fifty cents a car, it would be seven fifty an hour times six which worked out to forty-five dollars a day or two hundred and twenty-five dollars a week tax free.

He knew that at McDonald's he would get at best twenty hours a week and could never make that sort of money. This did not seem right but what are you going to do about it?

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