Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Man Over Machine

Weekly I take the magazines I’m done with to the soup kitchen for the guests, plus I always pick up a couple of San Francisco Chronicles on my way over there. One recent week, Tom gave me some of his periodicals to take along, so I had a number of items to put on the rack, most of which were not well received. Time (mine) and Rolling Stone (Tom’s) were snatched right up, ditto the two newspapers. No one really wanted Tom’s The Nation, Mother Jones, or the magazine put out by an environmental organization. Even less did they want my copy of The Economist, and the very last things to remain, which surprised me, were two issues of The New Yorker.

Now and then I have taken gossip or shopping magazines over there, if I find them in the laundromat around the corner or on the rare occasion that I buy gossip magazines—when I do buy them, I buy all of them, to make sure I fully understand what is happening with Kim K.—and those are extremely desirable items. I thought maybe it would be a bummer to look at a magazine featuring things one can’t buy, but magazines full of photos of colorful things, models and movie stars are highly sought after. I guess that makes sense. I like looking at photos of houses only billionaires could afford and places I’ll never visit.

That day, I saw that the nose piece of handsome D.’s glasses was broken, the two lenses flimsily connected with blue tape. He said they were Walgreens platinum unbreakable glasses. I observed that he had disproved that, and he said with satisfaction, “Man over machine.” The following week he had a different pair of glasses, these also falling apart, but he said he was thinking of getting a monocle or actually two monocles, which he planned to fashion into glasses using string.

There was also something unusual about B.’s glasses, namely that they were on upside down. He is another favorite guest of mine, the one who was observed using needle-nose pliers to groom his curly beard. He told me that since 1999, he has lived inside for just five years. He is working on finding housing, but it’s a challenging bureaucratic process. He’d had an appointment related to getting housing, but everything had gone wrong on his way there, including that his belt broke, and he was 30 minutes late and the lady screamed at him. Then he said, very sweetly, sounding very concerned, “Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you about this. I don’t want to make you sad.”

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