In another outing, proving once again I need to start carrying my portable recorder with me every place, I had another meet up with a bum…which was the intention of the walk any way. I took my usual route down Stockton Street to Union Square here in San Francisco and had only just entered the square when approached by my first bum trying to sell me a handful of marijuana out of his giant sweaty hand. But back to the point.

After convincing him of the fact that I didnt want to buy anything from him, he decided to tell me his life story. His name was Osiris and he carries with him a few notebooks full of hundreds of signatures and personal notes from people walking the street. Turns out he is a poet. We sat around for about 30 minutes and he performed his scat poems for me while injecting his comedy into the verses as well. From time to time, when others would walk by, he would make very nice comments to them and make them smile as well.

At one point in his sales pitch (this time to solicite a donation for a hotel room for the night) he emptied the contents of his pockets into my hands, a bold move for a stranger. The contents of his pockets were this:

  • 7 crumpled up single dollar bills
  • $3.52 in change
  • 1 giant watch battery
  • A manual can opener….small, like a pocket knife

I know, not real exciting, but there I stand with everything this guy has to his name in my hands. Why would someone do that? When he started asking if I had any donations for his poetic performances again I told him I didnt have any money…which was kinda true. I had a $20 that I had taken out of my wallet and put into my pocket (this isnt my first time talking to bums). I pulled my wallet out and showed him the contents, and he was satisfied. We are now friends I think.

At the end of the night, after many poems, scats and cigarettes, we parted ways. He was off into the night to make other people smile and to earn some cash for his hotel (or drug habit, whatever). Immediately after that, I watched some cops pull over a car on Powell Street for smoking pot in the car. The driver got a ticket for letting it happen and the guy smoking got a ticket for doing it. What an interesting world.

2 Comments

  1. You’ve arrived! Great story. You have to love this city.

  2. See, I knew you were a hell of a good guy! Great story. You definitely need to record this!

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