Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An Odd Sense of Decorum


While standing on the dock, I looked down the alley and noticed 2 scraggly junkies hustling up the block carrying 2 armchairs. Like the junkies, the chairs looked like they had spent some considerable time on the street before being adopted.

Despite the chairs being cumbersome, the junkies moved at a fast clip, dodging obstacles that littered the sidewalk. Oddly this wasn’t an odd occurrence. It was the first of the month and many SRO Hotel dwellers were on the street, having spent their G.A. or SSI checks on drugs, not rent. Street sales were ample and people were moving clothes and large objects from hotel to hotel or just donating them to the streets.

Approaching the end of the alley, they abruptly stopped and placed the chairs, angling inwards, in a shallow inlet between 2 buildings. The woman immediately sat down and shot up in her ankle; the other guy pulled out a blue bandana and placed it on the seat cushion, before sitting down and shooting up. Obviously this junkie was either new to the street and not “jonesing” as much as his partner or, regardless of his situation, still maintained a sense of decorum – street decorum. I found this little act of dignity fascinating and humanizing.

I sat on the dock and watched them. Once they had shot up, they settled into the seats and stared straight ahead, like they were watching an imaginary TV. For this rare moment, they were at peace and enjoying a rare sense of privacy (even with me eyeballing them).

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