This evening I was cycling home thinking about the 4th of July and what an utter mongrel Dick Cheney is, when I stopped at the lights and waited for a slow man to cross in front of me.
He was very fat and was wearing a black tee shirt with a massive head of Mickey Mouse on it and sloppy beige track pants and a baseball cap and his nose was so sunburned that skin was coming off it and his eyes were very very pale blue.
Like a husky.
Like a husky.
He was going very slowly because he was pushing a wheelchair loaded with 4 green bin liners stuffed with what looked like blankets and sheets.
The bin liners were tied to the wheelchair with a piece of rope and he was pushing the wheelchair with his left hand and with his right hand he was pulling a wire trolley of the sort generally used by old people for going shopping.
In this he had a tall plastic laundry basket, full of some items of fabric and on top of this was another green bin liner which was also full of some kind of fabrics.
As I watched him cross I realised he was stuck at the curb and couldn't get the wheelchair up onto the footpath.
'Oi,' I called to him, 'wait, I'll help you.'
I got off my bicycle and put it on the footpath on it's stand and said-here, I'll take the wheelchair and you pull the trolley.
He agreed and we got the things on the footpath and he started his walk down Market street and I got back on my bicycle and waited at the lights again.
But he really wasn't getting anywhere pushing the wheelchair and pulling the trolley so I got off my bicycle and said-'here, I'll lock my bicycle to the fence and I'll help you get your stuff down the hill,'
I started to lock my bicycle to the church fence.
'Hang on there's an easier way to do that,' he said finishing off the locking of my bicycle to the fence.
'I'm not very good at locking it up, it's confusing,' I said.
'Don't leave your helmet on your handlebars,' he told me, 'there are dishonest people around here,'
I put my helmet back on my head and then said-Shall I take the trolley or the wheelchair?
'Take the trolley,' he said, 'the wheelchair is too heavy,'
So then we started walking down Market street, me going behind because, really, I had no idea where we were going.
After a block all of his bin liners full of what I now saw were sheets and towels and blankets and rags fell off the wheelchair.
I stopped pulling the trolley and we spent about ten minutes tying the bin liners back onto the wheelchair.
'Sometimes they let me take these on the bus,' she said, 'but other times they won't even stop for me,'
'That's a bit shit,' I said.
'That's a bit shit,' I said.
Then we started off again.
We didn't say anything to each other, we just walked.
Even though I had run into a hedge twice and gotten the trolley stuck in a hole, at that moment I was rather pleased that I had been working out so much in the gym because my new muscles were coming in handy manoeuvring this old person shopping trolley down the hill.
After about ten more minutes of slow going due to the appalling state of the footpath I asked him-'where are we going?"
'Corner of Market and 19th,' he said.
As I was walking behind I had a chance to look closely at the man and saw that the back half of Mickey Mouse was featured on the back of the man's tee shirt as if Mickey was draping himself across the mans shoulder.
I was also conscious that a piece of what looked like a red dressing gown was scratching up against my tee shirt and I wondered if I might get fleas or lice from it.
I was also conscious that I was wearing my gym clothes, a 2 dollar pair of sandals that smelled like sump oil and my undone bicycle helmet was wobbling around my head.
After a while 2 young Mexican men came walking behind us, one playing a guitar and singing.
They passed us and said hello and I said hello back.
Then, just after we crossed 20th street the young man's wheelchair lost its bin liners again and we both stopped.
'I'm not going to bother tying them on again,' he said, as he non-methodically loaded them all back on to the wheelchair.
'I'll just hold them on,'
'Okay,' I said, and then we walked on, him holding the top bin liner by a piece of stretched green plastic and me following with his wonky trolley.
Suddenly, at 19th street the man pulled his wheelchair up against a fence and stopped.
'I just live around the corner, so I'll be okay from here,'
'You sure,' I said, 'I don't mind going to yours,'
'No,' he said, 'it's okay,'
'Okay,' I said, 'it was nice to meet you,'
'Hey,' he said, 'I don't got much, but I can give you a dollar for helping me,'
'No way, course not,' I said, 'you don't need to,'
'Okay,' he said.
Cheers I said and turned and walked back up toward the corner of Market and 24th to get my bicycle from where the young man had locked it to the church fence.