Thanks to a combination of jury duty and a national holiday this was a four day weekend for me and I was able to get a lot done. To top off the 4 days of frolic, focus, and fun my wife and I decided to “do lunch” today. The first two places we tried were closed due to the holiday, and so we settled for our favorite Indian restaurant and had our favorite dishes.
We had already had two or three deep conversations on the day instigated by a particular podcast, “catching” a neighbor going through our trash looking for bottles and cans, and just the work of the day. As we ate and mused about various concerns we noticed two men on two separate occasions picking up discarded 3/4 smoked cigarettes from the sidewalk, and yet another man picking through trash cans for returnables.
Of late we’ve contributed a couple of bags of groceries to our local food bank via our daughter’s elementary school, and, a few weeks ago, rather than donating goods to Goodwill or Savers we put a few dozen items on our front steps for passers by to take and enjoy: everything from a working TV set to bags of girls’ clothing.
It is undeniable though, “our” neighborhood is not “their” neighborhood any more than their world is our world. My wife sipped her mango lassi and I used a piece of shahi nan to soak up a bit more of the sauce that makes Panjabi Tadka’s lamb boti kebab masala so extraordinary. They, the cigarette scavengers, have probably never been in this space, it also seems a good bet that any trips to Symphony Hall would have been years ago for them, and the Springfield Museums likely do not enrich their lives on a regular basis.
My neighbor, discovered foraging in my trash, has always been someone I’ve treated as a friend, if not a very close one. Now he is aware that I am aware of the level of his destitution. He once mentioned, upon seeing my small pickup truck in the same spot for weeks on end during the summer, that I could put the vehicle to good use making money hauling things here and there for people. Unthinking, I said, in essence, my leisure time was more valuable than whatever paltry cash I good bring in schlepping things around. He could no doubt use the extra income.
Our worlds are like the material and the ghostly in “A Christmas Carol”, constantly contemporaneously coexisting, but only rarely perceiving the others’ existence.