He was swaying by the trash can at the Walgreen's on South Lamar. It was 2:30 AM. I was the only person around. I should have been prepared.
By "prepared", I mean ready with a firm but non-threatening "no". Instead, I was reactionary and had that urge to tell him off. I'm not sure why I do that...why people in general do that. You don't have to be abusive or insulting immediately like you have to "win". You're going to walk away from the guy and go to a residence with a secure place to sleep and go to the bathroom. You're winning...no need to get the ego involved. And besides, John, insulting the guy isn't going to make him get his shit together. He's obviously fucked up...he won't remember you anyway.
Bum: "Hey, can you spare some --"
Me: "Fuck no, man...I'm broke, and I'm working my ass off! I just washed dishes for 9 hours tonight!
Okay, not that abusive, but I'm steering this in the shit's-going-to-go-down direction.
Bum: (slurs something I don't understand) "...Hey! Look! I'm..."
Me: (walking away) "Fuck off! Jesus."
Totally uncalled for, and I know it...yet I stop and look at him. He starts staggering towards me, raising his voice. Scraggly beard and trucker hat. But not in a hipster way.
I see him walk towards me and I flash back 5 years to the time I punched a bum in the face. That time was a tad different...I had been up all night and loaded with alcohol and ritalin. Also, that guy started yelling and cursing first. This time, I'm instigating.
I realized I was tired and had very little tolerance in effect. Obviously.
Bum: (yelling) "Hey! I washed dishes too, you know!"
I shift on him now that self awareness has set in.
Me: "Well, what happened?"
Bum: (stops walking, and looks like he's thinking, or attempting to) "I, uh..." (slurring and indistinguishable words)
Me: Look, I'm an alcoholic heroin junkie, all right, man? Sober almost 9 months. It can be done."
I walk away to silence. Then I hear him say one more thing.
Bum: (still yelling): Yeah, well, GOOD LUCK!
I don't know if he meant it sarcastically or sincerely. He probably doesn't either. Doesn't matter.
Good luck to you, too.
Not really happy with myself about that exchange. It should have been much shorter, or I could have talked to him a bit. However, I stopped antagonizing and ended the exchange...and I didn't physically assault him, so there's that. Baby steps, John.