Philip Roth had Goodbye, Columbus, a novella of Jewish-Americans trying to assimilate and break stereotypes as a character leaves the Ohio State University. I have Goodbye, Monroe, a story of departing with the crazy cast characters who made a 2 1/2 block walk up Monroe Street so very special.
A few weeks ago I switched
jobs. I know in a previous post I stated that I loved my job and was
quite happy in the position I was in. That did not change. I was not
looking for a new job, but the pastry Gods smiled down on me as they
sprinkled me with confectioner's sugar and said, "Here Cari, here's a
position that is ridiculous in its growth and learning opportunities.
You would be a fool not to take it." I was offered a peach of a
position, well rather a peach cobbler of a position, so I seized it.
And as with my last position, nothing on here reflects my current
Anyway, I became quite accustomed to
seeing a number of faces on my stroll from the Red line stop at State
& Monroe to my Michigan Avenue employer. Note: My new position
is still on the Red line, so sleep easy tonight. As I've been gone for a
few weeks, I've realized I have missed these secondary characters in
the theatre of my life, so I felt that it was necessary to say Goodbye.
Goodbye, Monroe. Note: And Hello, Harrison. Your crazy is already
proving to be bountiful due to the residentially-challenged man who
asked me for a sandwich outside of 7-11 but specified only tuna or egg,
as he did not eat meat. Once again I learn that beggars can be
I always enjoyed our banters. You were always polite to ask me
about my day and if the restaurant was busy. I enjoyed dropping day-old
pastries and the occasional sandwich into your shopping cart when you
were already asleep when I got off work. I apologize for stopping this
practice, but you really pissed me off when you asked me to start buying
you burgers and chicken breast. Do you have any idea what the salary
of a pastry cook is? Let me tell you, one step above poverty, on a good
week. I do not, nor will I for a long time, have the luxury of pissing
my money away on protein when there is perfectly good rent to pay and beer to
purchase, and I would prefer it if you did not get so brazen in your
Dear Batshit Crazy Cuban Man:
do not miss you. You lived in the alley behind my place of business and
I tried everything possible to avoid you. I lived in a healthy fear of
you ever since you once asked to bum a cigarette off me and I refused.
You pleaded that you were homeless, I said if I gave something to
every bum that asked for something that I would be homeless as well.
You told me that you were Cuban and that you would make me, "Say Hello
to your little friend." I initially thought this was a Date Rape threat
and it was not until I came home and Googled that line that I learned
it was from Scarface and you were not threatening me with your "little
friend" but rather referencing one of the few Hollywood movies featuring
a character from your homeland. Note: How is it that a man without a
home, let alone a television, has seen more movies than I?
P.S. Thank you for showing me your "little friend," I was relieved that it was not a gun and terrified that it was a metal baseball bat. Your comment is the reason I became trained in hand-to-hand combat with
a knife and started carrying pepper spray. Say Hello to Your Little
Friend?!?! No No sir, say hello to a punctured lung and a flesh
laceration that will not heal AND pepper spray designed to be used in
Alaska to stop Bears. Say Hello to MY little friends!
Dear Bob Marley's Brother:
am willing to bet that most people who initially see you fear you. We
only had one exchange, when I offered you a leftover salad, you refused
and then said thank you. Your shoes are worn beyond worn, your hair is a
bouquet of dreadlocks, you just seem to walk around aimlessly for hours and you are as essential to the Loop as the Pink
lights at PalmerHouse in October. I don't know what your story is, but
I am willing to bet that you probably have some amazing stories to tell, I
hope you stay warm this winter, and if you need a coat/gloves/hat/new
boots, I would be happy to procure them for you.
Dear Jesus Rapper:
annoy me. I do not care what your music is and I do not care that you
pound on a timetable rapping about Jesus. I actually once had a bit of
respect for you after seeing you drink half a bottle of honey then chase
it with a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter. However, I lost that
all after our one and only conversation.
You sit at the
Monroe stop, with a shaker of beads in hand, rapping about Jesus. You
always finish each rap with, "Thank you, my name is (edit) and I am
homeless. I get by entirely by your support." I once thought this was
mundane until I saw you taking a shot of honey. Honey might be the
greatest ingredient on Earth, I worship it. I have no less than 17
different varieties of honey in my cupboard right now (This is not an
exaggeration.) I also know how extremely expensive honey has become. And
to see someone playing the residentially-challenged card when chugging a
premium ingredient irks me. We had a conversation about your honey
consuming ways and your "career." You told me you had the skill to not
be homeless but chose not to pursue options because the only thing
worthwhile in life was, "A dedication to Jesus."
respect your devotion; however, I really think you should be able to
find time for a dedication to paying taxes through legitimate
employment. Or at least claim your tips when you file with the IRS.
Because even if you do not take advantage of the social services provided by taxes, you will have a very hard time finding an audience to make donations when I
declare Martial Law in the near future due to the American Economy, or as
I prefer to call it, "The Hindenburg: Reloaded."
Dear Monroe Street Residentially-Challenged Individuals,
Thanks for the memories. Carpe Diem.