A bum, his wife, and some chicken wings

The following story happened to me in the summer of 2003. I am not normally one to help bums I see on the street. Having grown up in Chicago and attending University on the South Side, being approached by these people was almost a daily occurrence and I was desensitized to their plight. One night, however, I let my guard down. Though it was perhaps one of the most interesting nights of my entire life, it was incredibly stupid and I probably deserved to get raped and killed. But I seem to be a pretty lucky guy most of the time, and interesting stuff just happens to me.

It was after 2AM and I was driving back from my friend’s house in Chicago Ridge. For those unfamiliar with the geography of Chicago, this is a pretty long drive, over 25 miles. I was working as a summer camp tutor at the time and I had to be awake in less than five hours to go to work. Less than a block from my house, a man comes running out into the middle of the street in front of my car and motions for me to roll down the window. This being 2AM on the South Side of Chicago, I choose against it and instead honk my horn for the bastard to get out of the way. He is indignant, however, and the guy was saying “please,” so I just rolled down the fucking window because I was tired and wanted to go home. He goes off on some tirade about how he and his wife are trying to get to the 47th street L Station but his wife is too tired to keep walking and he really needs a ride to the station and would I please bring him there. I tell him no way but I’ll give him a buck if he wants. He says he doesn’t need money, he just needs a ride. So I tell the guy I really need to get some sleep and go to work. By this point his wife comes over, and I’m surprised he actually did have a wife, and he said he promised to buy me some chicken wings if I gave him and his wife a ride to the 47th street station. I was tired, hungry, and obviously not thinking straight so I tell them to get in the car. The station is only 2 miles away and I can be home and asleep in 10 minutes.

So I take him down 47th street, and we’re almost there when he tells me to pull over at this little jazz club. Now, I’m an open minded guy, and I’m not really afraid to drive through any neighborhood in Chicago at night, but the key word there is drive through. And I’m not too open minded to know that a white guy on 47th street at 2:30AM is bound to draw attention. The guy says he promised to buy me some chicken wings and he’s bound to keep his promise, blah blah blah. I plead with the guy to just go to the damn station, I don’t need any chicken wings (even though I was hungry), but he lays the guilt trip in hard. So I go walking into this jazz club with this guy and his wife. It wasn’t like the entire club went dead upon my entering, but I certainly turned the eye of everyone in that place a couple of times. A live band was playing in a dingy little corner, and the sweatiest drummer I’d ever seen in my life was pounding away on those drums like he had been tripping speed for the last 17 weeks. My new friend ordered a plate of chicken wings and a round of beers (Note: I was not even 21 at this time, but it didn’t really matter in this neighborhood). The wife had still not said a thing, and I was so tired that up until that point I hadn’t even realized that she was white also. “Well I’ll be damned” I said out loud. What? Oh, nothing nothing, I said.

So the guy goes into his whole life story. He claims he was a phD candidate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, but for whatever reason he was kicked out and ever since then he hadn’t been able to find any work. He was down visiting a relative, he had to get back to Madison but didn’t have any money. Honestly, I wish I could remember better what he was saying, but I was tired and my brain was on a bit of a time lag and I was only starting to realize what the hell I was doing. The guy kept on talking, but all I could hear was the rat-a-tat-tat pounding of the speed-addled drummer. Some guy came up to me and asked if he could have a ride to the station too, but I politely declined. We must have stayed there about half an hour. To the guy’s credit, he did pay for the chicken wings, but I had to pay for the beers. The chicken wings were pretty good.

We walked out of the club, I gave the guy a ride to the station, and then went home. The entire time his wife never said a single word. The man said “Thank you, God will bless you one day when you least expect it.” I fell asleep about 4 and called in sick the next day. I never told anyone this story because I knew they would just say “Jesus the guy could have raped you and killed you, what the hell were you thinking?” and I knew I didn’t have an answer to that question, so I never bothered. Perhaps the only answer I can think of is that the world is a mysterious place, and around each corner the potential for a unique adventure is waiting. I certainly wasn’t in the mood for adventure at the time, but sometimes it just seems to find me. It’s like a game of poker. Sometimes you call a bluff with nothing, but your nothing still wins. Was it a stupid call? Well, if you look only at statistics and averages, then yes it was. But you still won, so ultimately it wasn’t a stupid call. Sometimes it’s just dumb luck.

I would say that is dumb luck. But as you said you could of got killed or raped, but you were nice enough to give the man a ride. You were taking a chance there, but at least the man kept his word in buying you chicken wings. So I wouldn’t say that was bad at all.:toast:

Zep, you should write books. You’re like the Marquis du Sade of the current times.

I must have missed the part where he sodomised the wife with an hot iron and ate the man’s turds.

Nice story though.

I know what you mean about helping people off the street. More often than not they just want your cash than your help.

Back when I was just starting university I ran into this guy walking down the street. I was carrying my newly bought books home. He came up to me bawling his eyes out saying he had come down from Barrie or something and didn’t have enough money for gas to get back up and something about having to meet his girlfriend that was really important. I don’t remember the details of what he said but I asked him why he didn’t just get money out of the ATM since there was a bank just down the street or use credit. In between sobs he said he had nothing in the bank or a credit card. He wouldn’t normally ask , and he didn’t want to put me out, but anything I had would help.

His story tugged at my heartstrings and something about seeing a grown man cry is just pitiful. So, I handed him $10. The last $10 in my wallet. He thanked me and went in the direction of the gas station I pointed out.

The station is in the same direction as my home, so I could see if he really went there. Along the way he crossed the street and approached a guy in his car pulling out of the driveway of a medical building. He started the same story he gave me but the guy sped off.

I thought it was kinda jackassish of him, but it was the guy’s money and his decision. I felt a little better of myself. Until I saw the beggar walk past the intersection that he had to cross to get to the gas station. Then all the details of his story came back to me. He was down here from Barrie and got stuck without gas. Who would drive anywhere without making sure they had enough fuel to run their car? He had no money of any kind. How could he afford to drive anywhere? How did he end up in the middle of the suburbs apparently begging ‘for hours’ ? A guy driving into Toronto would surely go somewhere more important than the suburbs. How could a grown man have so little forethought that he would get stuck by the simplest problem?

Then I felt like a fool, and so, was rightly and quickly parted from my money. Now I don’t help anyone. I probably seem cold to others but being charitable shouldn’t involve being taken advantage of.

The only time I had an interaction with a homeless guy was when I was walking downtown with a couple friends and I saw a hand reaching towards me. So I went to shake it and he immediately started telling me a story about how he had a vision that we’d win whatever football game. He smelled like shit and alcohol that had fermented together for two weeks and when he was done telling me his story he was still holding my hand with his greasy sweaty stinky claw and I wanted to leave. He ended up asking me for money and I lied and told him I had none (We had just walked out of a Walmart with a radio and some cds so that probably looked weird)

God that sucked.

But now I feel kind of bad.

Edit: Also, I feel like I have no chance at little “unique adventures” living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Sometimes I wish I would have grown up somewhere else like Chicago or Atlanta, someplace more interesting. I feel like it’s too late for those places to effect me even if I moved there, me being almost 18 already.

I spent a total of 2 hours of my life in Lincoln, Nebraska, but they were two very interesting hours! I was driving with my mom out to visit some relatives in Colorado, and we stopped to get something to eat in Lincoln, since neither of us had ever been there and we thought we might as well see the town. Well, we ended up by the university area and went into a restaurant to have some lunch. The university anime or furry club or whatever the hell must have been having it’s annual “leave the house for one day a year” gathering, because the restaurant was full of fat, nerdy losers in animal costumes. I think we were the only other people in the restaurant, everyone else in the city wisely staying away. I ended up having a conversation with this one guy dressed as a tiger thing about kindred animal spirits or whatever. I don’t believe any of this shit, but I feigned interest with a straight face just out of morbid curiosity to see what the crazy fucker would say next. The guy ended up buying our meal, because I was so nice to listen to him. Despite the free food, my mom vowed to never go back to THAT town again. Before we got off the highway into town, I remember having said “What’s the worst that could happen? We meet a few cowboys?” I still say that to my mom all the time when we are going someplace new, or at least I did before I left home for the wide, wide world.

Wow… I remember WAY BACK when you wanted to get out of Chicago when the furries convened there, and now you tell a story about running into furries in Lincoln. Wow.

The homeless people you get around ehre are more like voluntary drifters. They seem mroe polite on the whole… and cleaner. Most of them still have various mental issues, but once in a while, you run into one and wind up having an interesting conversation with them.

Curious, do you guys consider yourself open-minded people?

I consider myself a moron who should stop tempting fate, coupled with a naive innocence about the goodness in all people that has yet to be broken. Does that count as open-minded?

That’s <i>doctor</i> bum, his wife, and some chicken wings to you, buster

Mind of a doctor bum and his wife. He was kicked out when they were considering him for phD.

How do you define that?

Lets say accepting of everything including things you disagree with.

Define accepting.

I see accepting as mostly being non-judgemental or at least being able to co-exist positively

There’s a difference between co-existing, which I do with no problem and being non-judgemental, which I don’t do.

What I think you didn’t include is that having an open mind means you’ll change your opinion in face of facts that prove you’re wrong about something.

This smacks of relativism. Let me break it down for you:

We can accept people’s opinions as valid if and only if their opinions are backed by solid factual evidence. A well informed opinion is always much better than one that is not well informed (obviously).

Furthermore, to say that we should “respect” everyone’s opinion, regardless of how insane it is leads to danger. When we think that way it means that we should give creationist “science” and real science equal clout, and that some child’s theory about babies coming from pixie dust is just as valid as the true way to form babies (I’m fairly certain I don’t need to get into detail with this example :-P).

In Paul Boghossian’s book Fear of Knowledge he discusses the problem that some more “open minded” scholars have. There is much scientific evidence that the Native Americans crossed over the Bering Strait from Asia approximately 10,000 years ago. However, this contradicts the Lakota myth that they are descendents of the Buffalo people and sprouted from the Earth having always lived in North America. There are many scholars who say that both can be right, even though these are mutually exclusive ideas. I would like you to think exactly how extreme your definition of open mindedness is.

I agree that one judges beliefs/opinions/ideas when one encounters them, regardless of one’s attitude to them. I tend to define open-mindedness as the area between “Don’t be a bitch” and “Don’t be their bitch”.

I’d also want to stress the difference between an idea and an act. You may fancy a wrong idea but a wrong act has to be countered. Things ain’t black and white of course but if you can’t make a stand, then you’re opinionless, not open-minded.