Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Is your life not enough like a Portlandia episode already?"

Asked a friend last summer, when I told him I was working part time at a food cart.

We met for lunch on the patio of Holman's, with tatooed women in black eyeliner, smoking like chimneys, smoking like it was a perfectly healthy thing to do in 2015, and I was eating bacon at the time.
He's grown foreign, having moved to the east-coast after law school.
Portland was even a little cliched for him, a native.

I still like Portland, despite the traffic, which has grown insufferable, and the demolition of old charming houses and ratty charming buildings. 

I guess I do, maybe I don't so much anymore, but where to go?

I really like working at the food cart, I explained to him and many people after him.

I really like the people, and I am good under pressure. 

I like to cook.

I like to keep order.

I like a challenge.

I like getting a little dirty and frazzled.

So I continue.

I go faithfully each weekend and it pleased me very much.

I help by training new people, which also pleases me.

In general I am pleased.

Last Sunday, I was standing at the counter cracking eggs, 48 eggs, cracking and cracking, waiting for a new girl. 

I'd left the door open for the breeze.

People walked by, several stopped to see if I could make them breakfast, but I was not quite ready. 

I heard someone mumbling, so I said in my cheery breakfast lady voice "I'm not quite open yet, I can help you at 9:00, maybe a little bit earlier!" and turned to look and saw a disheveled fellow, but I was up high and rushing and not looking closely, and he was leaning on the back porchlet of the cart, chin to chest.

When he looked up, I saw that his mouth was bloody. 

Like someone had lined his lips with black Sharpie.

He moved his lips, but no words were coming out.

I said "WHAT?"

And then he started crawling over the edge, pulling himself up onto the platform, but slowly, like the zombies in The Walking Dead.

He slurred "I just want to come home, I am not in love with you!"

I realized that he was just wearing underpants. 

Maroon boxerbriefs, and one sock.

He was quite dirty, but not the kind of worn in dirt that people that live on the street usually have.

"You need to get OFF of there RIGHT NOW!"


I screamed at him, but he kept crawling, like someone pretend swimming.

I locked the door, but I couldn't tell if it was locked, or not.  It was one of those handles, that UNLOCKS when you jangle it from inside.

I bolted the top of the Dutchdoor, and fastened the chain.

I ran to the front and locked the windows. 

I looked out and not a soul was on the street. 

He'd climbed down and was embracing the ATM machine, which stands right next to the backdoor.

Sticking his hands in the slot, and hugging it over and over, like a weird ritual.

"I'm going to call the police, you need to leave!"

And he wandered off down the street.

My heart was pounding, not so much that I thought he might harm me, although I thought he might, but mostly because he spoiled something I like so much. 

I got a huge splinter in the palm of my hand from the top of the Dutch door, and my nerves were badly jangled. 

I am grateful he didn't touch me, his bloody hands. 

The idea of that made my skin crawl.

My friend Doug came down later and just sat outside and kept me company.

It got busy right at 9:00 and I don't think anyone could tell I was feeling woozely inside.

When I got home, I told Mark about it.

"Why didn't you call!"

I didn't want to wake him.  I didn't want to spoil his Sunday. I didn't really want to talk about it, very much.

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