You don’t normally look at these women. Be honest, you don’t.
They’re drifting-though-the-street crazy, as far as you know, so you don’t look. But you should. They’re the reason women are often superior to men. This black lady, for example, in the first photograph, she asked me for pocket change when I was loitering outside Original Joe’s in North Beach. And I gave her all I had, which was around three bucks. She was so appreciative. She hugged me and I hugged her back, for she was so warm and the night was cold and I figured the warmth she gave me was worth way more than the money I’d just given to her.
When our street business concluded she turned to walk away up Stockton Street and said “May the Force be with you” like she meant it. I considered myself blessed.
Then a few days later I was at Tanforan Mall when this lady walked up to me. She also asked me for money. I gave her all the coins in my pocket, which this time was about two bucks.
If you’ve ever imagined your favorite piece of candy speaking to you in the most beautifully cartoony female voice in the world, that’s how this lady spoke. And her hair was so luxuriously silver she could have killed werewolves with it. She was sweetness personified.
So pay attention to people, to the weird ones whom you think you know everything about. The biggest threat to us all isn’t anger or wariness, but withholding compassion.
(North Beach, San Francisco and San Bruno, California 2016)