Yesterday, as I walked across the stripey crosswalk in front of The Devil's Playground, I was wary of the two thirty-something guys standing under a white tent top. You know the kind. Just the top, on four legs, like old men in overalls sit under to sell tomatoes and watermelons along the road.
I'm used to folks begging out front of The Devil's Playground. Usually, it's a Little League team raising money to go to a tournament. Or Girl Scouts' moms hawking cookies. Or a Li'l Cheerleader bake sale. These two guys had a single long table, set up perpendicular to the sidewalk, with only a few items in the middle. It looked like maybe some keychains, or stress balls, and some flat things that might have been bumper stickers or pamphlets. I didn't look, because I wasn't interested. There were maybe 10-15 items total on that white plastic table.
As I crossed the stripey crosswalk, the Hispanic guy closest to me said something in Spanish. I don't think it was directed to me. I don't speak Spanish. But the red-headed guy closest to the store surely did. Because they both chuckled. Then Red said, "Hello, Ma'am."
I nodded. Didn't even look their direction. Because of course they were making fun of me. Right? I didn't see anything funnier than me in the area. It was right when I walked by. So I'm sure they were making fun of me. Just like the gals at the nail salon making fun of Frank Costanza's feet.
It's not like nobody ever made fun of me before. I'm a 28-year career TEACHER, by cracky! So it's not like I got my feelings hurt. I don't even know what they said! I just didn't want them to think they were getting one over on me.
When I came out, another lady exited behind me.
The Hispanic dude said, "Ladies, would you like to contribute to our drug prevention program?"
Well! NOW you need money, and there's a witness, and you're going to ask ME, the one you made fun of so many short minutes before, for a contribution? Aw, NOT-HEAVEN no!
"No thanks." I kept walking. The lady behind me started giving a lengthy explanation about not having any cash, only plastic. Normally, that would have been me. But I had three twenties in my shirt pocket, because I got cash back. I'd rather give that whole sixty bucks to a begging alcoholic asking for change in a convenience store at 11:00 a.m. than give it to these guys.
I don't know if these dues would like me telling them that. But if I had a red-headed friend walking along with me, we'd chuckle about it.
Yeah. I don't know what the guy said as I went in. For all I know, he said his balls were itchy. And I can't be blamed for THAT. But whatever it was, their demeanor made my teacher senses tingle. I may not speak Spanish, but I can read people.