Wanted For Reckless Sandwich Buying | Gayle Bell

Walking toward my bus I see a woman dressed in 3 layers of clothing She is mumbling to 3 people who, of course pass her as if she is a brick in the wall. I look her in the eye. Spare, some change? she asks the ground in front of her. Sure, I say merrily. This is so embarrassing, looking me in the eye. I chat to her and apologize for taking too long to find my coin purse and give her my unasked-for story about being homeless once. I take her hand, put it in mine, and tip the contents of my change purse. I apologize about the pennies; pick up the ones that spill on the ground. As I’m about to wish her the best day possible, I hear at my right shoulder; Mam, do you know what you and she is doing is illegalI turn around to see this bicycle cop.

The lady shrinks inward even more. I beg your pardon, I say with as much ice calm as I can put in my voice. You see where she is standing? He says pointing to the liquor store. I haven’t had a drink in 2 days.

Mam, you don’t have to say anything to him, I say. Ms. Lady, you can have the money back, I don’t want you to get in trouble, say she. What kind of crazy magumbo world have I landed in? Ms. Lady, my only regret is I don’t have more to give you, go on ahead, he’s not going to bother you, I try to shoo her out of harm’s way, but she won’t move out of fear for me. I wheel back to him, Sir, I don’t give a damn if she wants to buy talent, drink, rock, sandwich, or some shrimp fried rice. My Lord said to give, He did not give me conditions on giving. I used to drink and drug, what has that got to do with anything?

Mam, panhandling is illegal. I could give you a ticket or have you arrested. I put both my wrists forward as if they already have cuffs on them. Here you go, do you need my id? It’s in my bra. (I’ve seen enough police beat downs to give officers fair warnings of where the id is and not just go for where it is located). Well, I’ll just give you a warning for now, just don’t do it again. As often as I can sir, as I watch the lady walk off, safe for now. When I look across the street, I see some young heads, who have apparently watched this ridiculous soap opera. I see one of the guys say to the other one while pointing at me She’s gangsta.

No, I want to tell the brotha, just trying to buy a lady a sandwich.

Kat Patton
Grandma’s Hands
drawing
©2021

©2021 Gayle Bell
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