Strangers.

by M. Lizabeth Currain

Every day, I encounter someone interesting, or gross, or weird, or smelly–but occasionally, some of these people have an interesting story to tell. Some have no story to tell you at all. Some ask you for a dollar. And some leave some pee for you to clean up at closing time while their ingrained stench offends your olfactory system. All of this can happen in the span of two days.

Yesterday, Wednesday: On my way to the train yesterday morning, a young girl, somewhat resembling Notorious B.I.G; weird eye included, was shouting on her phone to someone saying that she would call them when she got off the train. Then I hear her shout, “EXCUSE ME!”, so I turn around and she asks me where the subway is. So assume my role as good Samaritan, and tell Biggie Smalls that I’m on my way there now, so she can follow me if she wants. So I start on my way again, and she asks, “can you hold this, while I put on my coat. It’s cold out,” then hands me her purse, her cell phone, and her cell phone case. I must look trusting, because I would not be asking some random girl on the street to hold my purse. Bitches be all cray-cray! So as we are walking, the most conversation we really have is, “it’s so cold!”, because it was–and blustery–and I was ill prepared for such weather. Then, we are about a block away from the subway station, she asks, “Do have a dollar I could borrow?” Borrow?! Really?! Was she planning on getting my information to mail my dollar back to me? I really doubt it. I was like, “Um, I have no money. I’m broke.” I do not give handouts. Especially when I am in need of a handout of my own. She was less interested in me after that.

To end my day on Wednesday, there was an older homeless (I don’t actually know what his living situation was. Mole person maybe? Crazy, older eccentric? Hygienically challenged, most definitely.) gentlemen who came in to the store. He comes in very rarely, but the last time he came in, he fell asleep on a couch and my coworker had to wake him up–I thought he was dead–and the guy had a giant carbuncle (be thankful this is the image I chose. I threw up in my mouth at least 75 times researching, trying to find one that most resembled what ails this man) on his had. I think my coworker roused him gently by tapping him on the knee, using the very tip of his fingernail, which he then ripped off. Anyways, on Wednesday evening when he came in, to say his odor was offensive is an understatement. Every sense I had was accosted, harmed, DAMAGED. There are really no words that would be able to describe his odor in a way that could make you understand. He smelled worse than Times Square on a hot summer day. And his odor lingered. For an hour after he left. You know why? Because he piddled. Piddled on himself, and our floor. When I find when we were fixing up the store after we closed. Cleaning up hobo urine was not in my job description. I used a mop. Which came in handy for cleaning up my VOMIT. I feel bad for this old guy. I mean his suit is all wrinkled and stained and he ended up paying for a coat he couldn’t afford because I think he felt ashamed. It’s terrible. And I know making fun of a helpless, old man in a blog makes me terrible, but you know what, I feel somewhat justified, because I cleaned up his urine. Which didn’t smell like any urine I’ve ever expelled, which is also another sign of poor health, most likely, but I’m no doctor.

Today, Thursday: I was talking to my work BFF about Jocelyn Wildenstein and how she looks like a lion. I’m not sure how this really got started, but I think it had something to do with my work BFF pulling her face back with her hands and saying “plastic surgery” and from there I lept to Wildenstein–it’s not really that big of a leap, more like a shuffle over a crack in a sidewalk. Well, this middle aged gentleman; who I am assuming is a male gay because I don’t know that many male straights who care about Jocelyn Wildenstein; comes over to me and the conversation is as follows:

Presumed Male Gay: I heard you talking about Jocelyn Wildenstein, but I didn’t hear the last part. What were you saying about her?

Me: Oh, just that she looks like a lion.

PMG: I have a story about her. I was the 6 train going Uptown and she was sitting there reading a magazine. Well she wasn’t really reading it, but was pretending to read while everyone was staring at her. But everyone was staring at her because she had a wrap top on and she had her purse strap going across her chest, and it had moved the top so that her breast was exposed! Everyone was staring, but she didn’t notice. I guess she’s had so much plastic surgery that she couldn’t feel it. But there was a famous actor sitting down and we just looked at each other and were like, “oh my god, what the fuck?!”, it was really crazy!

Me: [laughing politely, would have laughed genuinely if hadn’t tossed in that bit about a “famous actor”] That is crazy!

Pretty soon Jocelyn Wildenstein’s face is going to look like this. If I am going to have nightmares and choke on my own vomit, so is everyone who reads this.