I work downtown. Like, really downtown. Slap dab in the middle of downtown. My office is equal walking distance between City Hall, and the Parish Courthouse. And while this has nothing to do with this post, I love Petula Clark’s song Downtown.
There are some sad things that I get to see on a daily basis, mostly homeless people or people who may have a place they call home, but spend most of their days wandering around down here. We find drug needles between our back steps and our building.
We had one guy who spent every night on our back stoop for nearly two months. Each morning, we were greeted at the back door by several half-drunken bottles of booze, and the stench of urine that would nearly knock you over. We took turns throwing lysol water on the stoop to clean up the mess for the day.
One guy does his exercises under a shade tree one block over, in clear view from our office windows. His exercises consist of what appears to be some combination of yoga, tai chi and cardio-boxing. (Is that, in fact, a valid exercise? I don’t know. I’m certainly not an exercise expert. My friends who just read that are laughing right now. But I don’t know why.) The intensity of his exercises range from really mellow to hyperactive, and appear to be directly proportional to whatever he’s using as dietary supplements at any given time.
But there’s one guy who I really wish I knew more about. He’s a tiny little black man: Maybe 5’2″ tall and can’t weigh more than 93 pounds soaking wet. He has costumes that he wears every day, and they somewhat rotate. For example, this morning, he had on all black. Black shoes, pants, shirt, jacket and stocking cap. The cap had “POLICE” knitted across the wide fold-up band, and as he crossed the street in front of me, he pulled his jacket back to expose an old-school sheriff’s badge bolstered on his chest. I think this must be his “SWAT” team outfit. Other days, he’ll have on cowboy boots, jeans, a button up shirt with the same badge on it, a toy gun strapped to his belt, and a cowboy hat. Sometimes he even carries around a walkie-talkie, into which he utters instructions or relays some secretly important information to whomever might be on the other end. Sometimes he is a pimp. Or so I can assume, since he’s flocked from head to toe in purple. Double breasted jacket. Wide brimmed hat, complete with feathers. One Sunday, when I passed through on my way home from church, I saw him dressed in a black suit directing traffic leaving a local church nearby. I wondered if he’d been commissioned to direct traffic, or if he’d just volunteered and people went along with him because he looked like he knew what he was doing.
Whenever I see him, I wonder about his life. How long has he been this way? At least 10 years that I know of. He appears to be in his late 50s, early 60s. Does he have any children? Any family? Where does he sleep at night? And most of all, where does he store all of those wonderful outfits?