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Walk to Safeway
A Day in the Life of a Hobo, Portland, Tuesday, March 14
© 2023 James LaFond
Last Friday I dropped my perscriptions from Northview pharmacy in Baltimore off at this Safeway to get transferred so I can get refills. Safeway employees at Pharmacies are very helpful in Portland. I had not heard back on Monday as expected.
I walked the two Little Bears to school, my duty for this 6 week stay to get them street savvy enough to be latch key kids in a tweaker infested Southeast Portland. Portland was never a place where little kids are in danger. It’s nothing like Baltimore where Groes will rape 80 year old women and 5 year old boys. These boys do not have to worry about other kids either—they are both almost 6 feet and over 200 pounds. What I worry about is that there have been homeless shootings around the school and that they might be mistaken for men by tweaked out men.
I walked them by Kelly’s house and pointed it out, “If some bad stuff happens, he’s halfway and retired—usually home. Knock on his door. He knows who you are, used to be a boxer and arm wrestler.”
I get the boys to the crossing guard at Powell and 69th and watch them lumber across with the lesser lads. Some of the young mothers doing the same smile at me. You do not see grandfathers in Portland.
The walk is downhill on Powell to Spic Martyr Boulevard, where a small Safeway with a basement parking garage and delivery dock is located up hill from The Velvet Rope sex club and my Wells Fargo branch, where the tellers are ever helpful.
Walking in to the store and heading back to the Pharmacy I note that all employees and the two customers are masked. When the masked mice scurry away from the counter, I looked at the clerk, a cute Italian girl, and motioned to my unmasked mouth and she said, “Oh, you’re okay, James,” and waved me to the counter.
“What is your birthday, James?”
“James, I called Northview pharmacy and they did not answer. I left a request and they have not responded. Would you like me to try again?”
“Yes, thank you so much. I’ll stop back down on Friday. These are traveling meds, not urgent.”
“Take care, James,” she smiled behind her mask and I walked down the candy isle to get a chocolate bar for Kelly’s wife, Lori, who had invited me for dinner this Tuesday night.
While I shopped, a cute, 50-year-old babe, with a nice athletic figure and long brown hair, pushing a broom in a Safeway smock asked, “Are you a teamster, sir—do you drive for Safeway?” noting my jacket and hoody.
“Oh, no. I used to work in grocery stores like you. This jacket and hoody were given to me.”
She smiled, “My father was a teamster and got hurt and disabled. I’m continuing the family foot print in union work. I like it.”
I noticed she was cute and turned to check her ass out while she pushed the broom by. She exceeded Asian booty standards and noticed my interest. As I selected Lori’s candy, the lady returned and smiled, “It was nice meeting you today, sir,” and was then paged upfront, the book keeper saying her name and, “...your box cutter is at the self checkout.”
She laughed and shouted to the self-checkout cashier, “I guess I can’t be trusted with sharp objects!”
Advancing to the checkout behind a cute young blond mother, she noted my few items and sent me ahead of her. I thanked her and checked out, the cashier smiling, “Nice to see you again, sir. Have a nice day.”
The walk up hill to the Southeast is fairly steep until you hit Foster. By the time I got to the Yeti Lair it was feeling like the first day of spring.
I wrote two pieces, washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, fed the cats, moped the house with vinegar and took my bath, giving me an hour to write a third piece before the cubs got home.
As I am drying off, I hear Mamma, who has a key, clomping through the house in her boots, a big woman who gave Yeti waters two big sons before she fired him. These boys never spent a day in day care and are better for it. I hear the oldest son, 14, laughing, “James, someone got in trouble.”
“It’s not funny—James are you in the bath?”
“Yes, Ma’am, getting dressed now.”
As I emerged Mrs. Waters said, “God bless you for keeping this place clean! Okay, this one and his friend had a slap boxing match in school, videoed it—kids watching and cheering and videoing—and put it up on Instagram. Genius! So I get called into the principal and he is suspended for the next two days. The principal tells me that he has heard from concerned teachers and parents that their dad lives with a man who is a boxing coach and is teaching them how to fight. I’m all about them learning to fight and told the principal that your are a good influence. Maybe you can talk some sense into this one about staying out of trouble in school.”
“Will do, Doll.”
“Thanks, James, and do you think you could get them from school on Thursday? I have to work and with that fatal tweaker shooting near school the other day, I’ve been all freaked the fuck out.”
“Sure thing.”
“And James, thanks for getting them to school.”
She pulls off and I say, “Bro, you are going to be the only demographic the cops are allowed to beat up and shoot. You need to practice staying off the government radar, and your gay school is a government institution. You don’t need a cop knowing who you are before you even meet. Your homo teachers are keeping a mental health report card on you.”
He grins, “Thank you, James,” more instructions to ignore. Are we good for some elder abuse when my brother gets home?”
“Sure: we’ll do stick and boxing.”
“Nice! Now, while you do your slave work out in the writing dungeon, excuse me while I engage in some worthless American activity—its called a video game if you must know!”
From 4:15 to 5:00 I sparred with both boys with the sticks, running a light tap clinic on them as they lumbered around and picked up some skills. We finished from 5:00 to 5:20 with a ten minute round of boxing with each.
At 5:30 Dad was up from his nap after driving 14 hours and was fixing diner with his boys in the kitchen as I changed out of my sweaty shirts and went over to Kelly’s place with a candy bar for his wife. An attractive girl of perhaps 30, smiled and nodded to me as we passed on the walk an hour before nightfall.
We sat and drank beer, had a nice light dinner and tipped some whiskey glasses.
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