As we are all temporary here at work in Charleston, few of us know each other. A few people have somewhat buddied up. There are two women in our group that are friends. Seems like they do some things together, dinner, drinks and what not. Not me, I am a loner, I ride alone, one trick pony and so on.
The other day I hear the two buddied women discussing dinner. One says “You wanna get supper tonight?” and the other says “Yeah”. People from the south and poor simple folk, the kind Sarah Palin calls real Americans, like to call dinner, supper. Because I have hit some good restaurants while here in Charleston I decide to offer a suggestion. “I have eaten at some good places, would you like a recommendation?” I say, to which one of them replies “Sure”. I start reeling off names of good places I have eaten. She gets a look on her face as if I have suggested eating doggy cigars out of the yard. She says in a very disgusted tone “Oh you eat at them fancy places”. Caught by surprise I say “Uh yes, I guess I do” She says “I like BBQ and diners”, to which I reply ” I like BBQ also, hell I love BBQ, but you can’t eat that everyday”, to which she replies “the hell I cain’t”.
I have made an observation which may require me to apply for a grant from the Government to study. Our government is handing out money like candy on Halloween and I need some to figure out something. Charleston is packed with jaywalkers. They aren’t everywhere, matter of fact they are in very specific places. Charleston has very distinct boundaries in their city. You go from has, to has not as you go through some intersections. I have driven around a lot and have gotten lost a lot. This has put me in all kinds of places in the city. This is where my observation started. As soon as I crossed into a neighborhood that is I would classify as has not, everyone and I mean everyone crosses the street where and when they want to. Several times I wasn’t sure if I should stop in the middle of the road to let someone cross or if I should just swerve. If I stop, which I did a couple times, I get a look that says “Hey, I’ll be damned, you stopped” which made me wonder if people ever stop. What is it about different cultures or income levels that make you more or less inclined to cross the road at intersections?
These neighborhoods are full of activity that you never see in other places in the city. I remember my cousin telling me all these stories about the poor neighborhood he lived in that was just like the ones I am talking about. Crazy stories about things that just don’t happen in “has” neighborhoods.
Sunday I was looking for a restaurant and I was lost, which is a common theme to finding anything around here, and I was in a fairly poor neighborhood. I looked up and there was a woman with a full sized red couch on a shopping cart. She was wheeling it down the center of the road. There were people all about and none of them paid any attention to her. I kept wondering how she got the couch. I figured she found it and was wheeling it home with the only transportation she had.
One night last week while waiting to get a table at an incredibly crowded restaurant, I stood outside leaned up against the building watching people. It was dark and to my right about a 100 feet was a guy of about 21 and he was harassing everyone on the street. I kept thinking oh man this guy is going to see me and start hassling me. So sure enough he looks over and screams as he is running to me “HEY MAN, YO YO YO CHECK THIS OUT!” “I don’t have any food, I don’t have a home, I have nothing man, I ain’t trying to do nuthin but get some food, cuz I ain’t eaten in a long time”. I wasn’t sure if this was true but this kid was certainly entertaining and at the very least looked as if he didn’t have a home. I said “what does it cost you to get food around here?” He said “Oh man only 3 or 4 dollars”. “3 or 4 dollars?” I say, “Where can you eat for 3 or 4 dollars?” I had a ten in my pocket and just gave it to him. We were instant friends. He was thanking me over and over and asked me where I was from. I told him Seattle, he said he didn’t know people from Seattle were so nice. Neither did I actually. He ran off down the street yelling his head off about how nice I was.
Yeah tell that to the guy that wanted my camera last week….