Posts Tagged ‘Sleeping Under An Overpass’

Always Trying To Look Busy

September 14th, 2022

With a thick coat, two pairs of sweat pants, two pairs of socks and gloves as a blanket, the cold morning air wakes her. She’s hidden, mostly out of sight under an overpass.

The street below is lightly traveled. The traffic above is loud, especially from trucks. Nevertheless, the noise doesn’t bother her. She’s been living in the city her whole life. Most nights, by the time she arrives under the overpass, she’s too tired to wake.

Her coat is old and worn out, though warm. The hood’s wrapped tightly around her head.

Slowly, she sits up, pushing herself up with her arms, leaning back against a cold cement post supporting the overpass. Even with the smallest breath, steam flow from her mouth from the cold.

She’s hungry, anxious to get up, yet, the cement slab she slept on was tough on her bones. Her body’s stiff from the cold. She knows the end is near. She feels more and more pain each morning when she wakes. The streets are brutal.

She turns on a small radio, listening to the morning show as she tries to motivate herself to get up.

The host is very controversial. He’s talking about the people who others have fantasized about the most while sleeping.

Different people call into the show, letting him know the people they’ve fantasized about the most.

She laughs to herself, smiling inside as different people tell their stories.

When the show ends, she slowly lifts herself to her feet, making her way to a stop sign just past the overpass.

She stands at the stop sign every morning, holding a small can. Many stop, quickly rolling down their windows to give her spare change. Many of the same people give her change daily.

As the day warms, traffic slows, she walks to a small inexpensive diner, immediately going to the restrooms, letting the water warm to its warmest temperature before washing her face and arms with a little soap and wet paper towels. Soon thereafter, she takes a seat towards the back of the diner, being cautious not to disturb any of the others eating.

Minutes later, she asks the waitress for a cup of coffee and scrambled eggs with toast.

When her breakfast arrives, she drinks and eats very slowly, trying to spend as much time in the warm diner as possible, holding her coffee tightly between her hands, letting the coffee cup warm her hands and body.

Even sitting next to her belongings, she always keeps a close watch over the things she owns. She doesn’t own much. A small AM/FM radio, a bag, a few items of clothes, a purse, a notebook and the papers she writes. She doesn’t have much, yet, the things she owns are very important to her.

The waitresses don’t pay much attention to her. They don’t give her any good deals or extra food. They don’t ask her to leave either.

She’s overjoyed at the opportunity to sit and warm herself daily. At the same time, she feels bad about staying in the diner for extended periods of time, always trying to look busy, writing different thoughts in her notepad while eating.

“Today’s Valentine’s Day. I didn’t even realize until late last night when I picked up a littered newspaper on my way to the overpass.

Valentine’s Day lost the feel of a real holiday to me years ago. The holiday lost the feel of love. Many don’t know what love is, how to express love or feel love. Many don’t know how to receive love. They don’t know how to love.

Having seen the things I’ve seen. The types of things people do to others, the way many treat others, the things man invented, nuclear bombs, the pollution man created, the destructive way of life many live, the way my life turned out, causes me to think of Valentine’s Day as just another day of the year.”

Hours later, she knows she’ll have to leave the diner soon. She fears overstaying her welcome, she fears the possibility of one of the waitresses asking her to leave.

She doesn’t know where she’ll go, thinking, “I could walk to another diner, get something to eat, while waiting inside. Though, if possible, I’d rather do something different.

I could take the bus somewhere. The traffic this morning was slow. Many didn’t want to roll down their windows in the cold. I didn’t get as much money as usual. I’d rather not spend the last of my money.

Maybe I could go to the park. I haven’t been to the park in a while. Maybe they’ve forgotten me.

The weather looks much warmer. Going to the park feels like a good idea.”

Just before leaving, she pulls out her cup of change, leaving the waitress a small tip.


Written by George Farina: