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Life Arts

Saturdays With Ford

By       Message James Armstrong II     Permalink
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(Article changed on April 6, 2013 at 15:29)

"You do nothing all day!"

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-Unenlightened

The above is a quote that was flung at me by a "janitor" of Block By Block.  That was only after that janitor tried telling a couple friends of mine what they could do and how they could do it?  What, trash man?  Obviously this clown isn't very perceptive.  Even when I was sitting on my bag, panhandling, I was still doing something.  Observing.  Writing.  Correlating.  Listening.  Reporting.  Keeping the Fascists on their heels.  But yeah, I was doing "nothing."  But never mind that, and never mind those morons who can't seem to see anything past their televisions or Fuhrer's marching orders.

I've written, in detail, of my average day out here.  Sure, this new year isn't like the previous two years.  It wasn't meant to be as such.  Those two years I panhandled, seven days a week for the first year, ten to twelve hours a day.  The second year I cut back to five to six days a week and only eight to ten hours a day, though, so... yeah, I lagged that second year.  But I like to refer to it as "cooling down," like when you're on the treadmill and you just finished your five mile run on a high speed.  Not easy, by any stretch.  I've had easier construction work!  People have no idea the concept of "work," and therein lies the problem.  Definition and who controls it .  I control mine, I don't know about any of you.

Working toward something and merely working are two different things, folks.  My process is slow and it's my time frame, not yours and especially not some corporation out of Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively.  Furthermore, it's none of the janitor's business what I do or how I do it... his only responsibility should be picking up garbage and moving on.  What if any other working person tried this?  Think about it... what if you were smoking a cigarette and then here comes a Sprint employee telling you you can't do that and is going to call the police if you don't stop doing it... what are you going to say to that person? 

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Imagine a Papa John's employee walking up to you and exclaiming, "You can't sit here all day long, you have to move," while you're sitting in a public place, outdoors, where "other people" are allowed to congregate , freely?  Because t he Papa John's employee has t he same amount of authority over me and those kids just like you or I do.... not much.  We can all call t he police... but why?  The police know we're out there, and if we are doing something so heinous and illegal, why don't they come out and deal with it?  Other than the usual harassment through cigarette ticketing, that is.

Just pick up the trash and roll your union-busting ass along!  Or is it Department of Homeland Security?  Either way, go the hell away.  You don't own or control the public space.  We are American Citizens and you have zero authority over us.  Especially if you're using the (UN)"Patriot Act" as the vessel to get there.  Real American Citizens don't recognize that illegally-drafted, unconstitutional screed, borne from fanning the flames of a false flag operation and the murder of over 3,000 world citizens... yeah, we could care less about that illegal tripe.

But I digress. 

And apologize.  I didn't want this piece to be about them... and it's not, but it has to be, partially, because of the opening quote and impetus for writing the column.  But that's it... no more about those who never seem to get it. 

On the weekends, I have a tough time filling the days.  Unlike Monday through Friday, where I have classes and write in the library, Saturdays and Sundays are filled, usually, with boring, mundane observations, mostly watching those from out of town come here and watch them shop and look at us like we're freaks and geeks and this is the circus of their vanilla suburban nightmares.  But then I saw someone I hadn't seen in a while.

About two years ago, I met Ford.  Ford is a 60-year-old man who finds himself strapped to a wheelchair, because Cerebral Palsy put him there years ago.  When I first met Ford and spoke with him he became enamored with me instantly.  He made this sound, a sound I will never get out of my head, mainly because he makes it every time he sees me.  Think of "Timmy" or "Timmah!" from "South Park," and add a lower-toned growl with an upward twist, and you have Ford's signature hello and approval. 

I hadn't seen him in quite a long time, since Tully's Coffee, where we first met, were forced to shut their doors, because of systematic harassment of "homeless" and the furthering of an agenda to raise rents in that area, which included jacking up the rent at Peking Express, allegedly.  I stopped seeing Ford, because I stopped going to where he and I used to meet.  And then, one day, when going to the downtown public library, to get my two hours of internet time, I noticed him out there... he was waiting for his bus and had an hour to kill. 

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Ford gets transported by a bus for the disabled every Saturday.  Ford hails from Hayward. 

So, for the past couple months, every Saturday, Ford and I roll around the city of Berkeley, checking out new sites.  Ford hasn't been around to too many out-of-the-way places.  When they drop him off at the library, they leave him to himself.  He doesn't have a handler, so he can't really get to too many locations.  Before we started hanging out, he would go to the Saturday Market on Center Street and back (to the library).  That would generally take him all day to accomplish, as he can't move too fast.  Ford doesn't have one of those fancy wheel chairs with an engine and roll bar and hood scoop... you know, "the sort of wheelchair that makes you feel like you wish you were almost handicapped."  Hey, don't send me your hate mail, I got that from Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.

Two Saturdays ago, Ford and I rolled our way up to "Bohemian Grove," or as I like to call it, "Fortress of Solitude."  Ford hadn't ever been there, apparently, judging by how excited he got.  Especially seeing all the young college coeds.  Ford is locked up, in a house, all week long and doesn't get to do much.  It's been this way most his life.  I like to tease Ford, that, "when I get rich, buddy, we're going to a strip club and we're going to have some fun!"  He said, "Oh boy!"  I can understand him.  It takes a lot of patience, something I never had; something Ford has bestowed upon me just by existing in his current state.

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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).

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