Last Saturday, around 2 am, I found myself on Market Street, waiting on a bus. I wasn't alone. There were half a dozen others. It was cold and I'd stopped at an all-night, 23-Flavors, coffee shop (no, this wasn't a laptope) before I'd arrived. I'd gone sleeveless, so the hot brew warmed my hands through the thin paper cup.
Anyway, it was San Francisco cold. The fog rolled overhead. A homeless woman in a poofy coat, dark athletic pants with white stripe down the side, and no shoes, approached me. I gave her a dollar. She wanted more. I told her I couldn't afford it. She told me I was the only one who had given her anything all evening. Her man was hovering nearby, too proud to beg, or maybe cognizant of the fact that we're more likely to give to a woman, which, I fear, is true. We're more likely to help out a woman as if need is gender-specific. Yeah, I'm guilty.
So then she asks for a sip of my coffee. I give it to her. She drinks it, and finally moves on, hitting up the others waiting for the bus, and striking out, as she heads down Market Street, her man in tow.
Twenty minutes later. Still no bus. Restless. I wanna be home.
The homeless woman and her man return. She is eating trail mix. She offers me some. I don't partake. She asks for more money and I tell her that I still can't spare more. She gives me that "I don't believe you" look and then offers to give me a blow job for $5. She is smiling, eager, ready.
And it disgusts me.
Don't misunderstand. It's not the offer of a blow job that disgusted me, or the capitalization of pleasure, but the price.
I can barely buy a cup of coffee for that. Homeless people, of late, have become so desperate that even pennies are gratefully accepted. Pennies. I've been asked for them move than once. Even a couple pennies, they say, will help. A couple pennies in a day and age where penny candy costs a quarter.
It still bugs me. What you can and can't buy for five dollars.
I'll let you wonder about what I did.