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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)

TITLE: Joe
By Sydney Avey
04/17/11


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Yowsa, my tooth hurts! Traffic is heavy today. Why donít all these people stay home in such bad weather? Itís dangerous out here.

Swooosh, now my pants are soaked and I got mud spattered all up my jacket. Daryl said I shouldnít go out today, but I got a job to do. If I donít show up here every day, someone else will take my intersection.

Stevens Creek and Saratoga has been my intersection ever since I got to San Jose. Last year I had to move to a new house. Pastor asked me why I donít find a new intersection, closer to where I live now. When my leg hurts too bad I have to take a bus to get here. But I been at this intersection longer than I been anywhere and Iím not of a mind to go anywhere else.

Pastor says I donít need the money and thatís true. I got my pension from the Navy. I donít need the money, I need the work. As long as I can stand on my feet, Iíll stand on this corner Ė my corner. A man has got to have a place to go every day. This is my place.

I got my regulars that slow down and toss me some change. Days when I get enough change, I buy me a Big Mac so I donít have to go back to the boarding house and eat whatever theyíre serving up to the men. I like to decide myself what I want to eat. I want to eat hamburgers.

Sometimes people will give me a Walmart gift card because they know Walmart donít sell liquor. They think thatís why Iím here and theyíre not wrong. It was liquor got me into the fight that gave me a bum leg and got me my separation papers from the Navy. It was liquor caused my wife to leave me. But I donít drink any more. It would kill me. Well, I donít drink much anymore. I have what the county doctor calls Ďmy bouts.í

Sometimes people give me Bible tracts instead of money. I put them in my pocket to give to other people who need them. Iím a church going man. I know Jesus and I know where Iím going. Iíve made my peace with God.

Once a lady sitting at a red light wrote me a check! Thatís crazy! Who does she think would cash a check for me? She had her name, address and phone number on that check. Hasnít she ever heard of identity theft? I scratched out her personal information and put that check to work as a book mark.

On the rare day I donít show up for work, I stay in my room and read. I try not to hang around with the other men. Theyíre bad influences. I go to church once a week on Sunday. Pastor visits me once a month. Heís the guy I call if I get sick and have to go to county hospital.

Lately Iíve been thinking you can tell a lot about a person by their hands. My regulars roll down their windows, stick a hand out and toss change in my Big Gulp cup like theyíre shooting baskets. They dispense their loose change and good deeds with big-handedness. They are confident of their place in the world and my place in the world. Sometimes they stick their heads out the window too, smile and say, ďhave a nice day.Ē

ďI always do,Ē I answer.

The undecideds are a danger to me and to themselves. They hesitate. At the last minute they dig in their pockets or purses for money and almost run me over trying to put a crumpled dollar in my hand without reaching a hand too far out of the car. They overthink the process. I never see their faces.

ďHave a nice day,Ē I say. ďDrive safe.Ē

Pastor suggested that I pray for each person who passes by my intersection. I thought that was a nice idea. So when you see me at Stevens Creek and Saratoga, whether you want to give me anything or not, know that someone prayed for you. Itís my job.


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This article has been read 316 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 04/21/11
I liked this piece. The MC's voice is great and I could hear him tell the story as it unfolded.
Cheryl von Drehle04/21/11
great story -- I especially like how the end, "that's my job" ties into that theme introduce in the beginning. You get inside his head in a very empathetic and realistic way
Tracy Nunes 04/23/11
I thought this was very interesting to read and showed well the complexities homelessness. I like that the MC wasn't one dimensional. Good job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/23/11
I really enjoyed this piece. The MC seemed so real andI could picture him on his corner. This is one of my favorites this week.
Linda Goergen04/26/11
I enjoyed the "mind-rambling" presentation of this, made it seem very real.

I love the way it ended with the praying being the MC's job, certainly gives a different perspective of his being out there.

Well done!
Nancy Bucca 04/27/11
This was quite funny. I enjoyed it immensely.
Debra Hindman04/28/11
I was wondering what his "job" was, right up to the end. Good on you for leading me there.
Patricia Protzman04/28/11
Congratulations on your highly commended win.
Kim Hamlin04/29/11
I love it Sydney, great story, congratulations on your mention!