16 July 2014

All the differences

I spent early Tuesday morning waiting for the 900a bus from Moor St, the first bus to the airport from the city. I had planned to spend the night in coffee shops, but as it goes, there are no coffee shops open all night. I went, instead, to McDonald's, starting the night out near New St station.

As you can imagine, McDonald's at 12:30 on a Tuesday morning is filled with all the people waiting that Dr Suess writes about in that book every millennial got for graduation. I read it to my kids.This morning, McDonald's was full of people waiting for trains and two black men eating food that had not been purchased at McDonald's, unless McDonald's is now selling full apple pies in pans and cider. They tried talking to these two women sitting next to me, asking the younger looking one what she was doing and where she was going. When they left, the man with the pie gave me a piece of advice about watching porn: I  couldn't do it on the WiFi, he said, I would need to tether my computer to my phone. I thanked him and left soon after, looking for another McDonald's with a power point and more coffee.

I ended up on Corporation St and as I was going into that McDonald's a younger homeless guy asked me for some change, for a coffee. I of course told him no, thinking as I've been taught he would only use the money for drugs.  He followed me in though and I was suddenly, irrationally scared that he might knife me.  After I ordered, he took out a saver card that they have here: when you buy 6 coffees the seventh is free and ordered a hot chocolate with  four sugars and sat down near the power point. I followed him there, to plug in my computer and keep waiting for the bus, working as it turns out on my article about porn.

Around 2:45 a woman came in to get coffee, another homeless woman, and knew the guy I was sitting near. She tried to order something, but didn't have the money and asked if her friend had 10p which I was suddenly eager to fish out of my coin purse. Another homeless man came in,  carrying a black plastic bag,  ordered a coffee. He dropped his lid over the rail to where I was sitting and I picked it up for him: he said, thanks and then, You's ain't homeless, is you? and I said, Oh, no, no, just waiting for a bus. Where's you from? he asked. Well, I live in Birmingham, but I'm from Chicago originally. Ah, he said, could be from Birmingham, Alabama, he said, and we both laughed: but you's ain't got the accent.

Around 3:40, I packed up to go, the guy I had been sitting with and initially afraid of now curled up and sleeping in the corner booth. The night manager went out front to smoke, and didn't say anything, standing at the threshold of the door,  looking out like an Edward Hopper painting. I pulled on my bag, and set out into the night again, the 900a bus coming on time and taking me away.