The coming of the Bag Lady.

22 Feb

She glares at people, that was the first thing I noticed.

She was out of place, that was an obvious thing.

Downtown Manhattan Beach Starbuck’s is the realm of the rich and pretty.

I’m there too.

How to describe her?

For one of the few times, I am at a loss for words.

Not for long, but enough that I notice.

She is shaped like an old country pepper pot from my great grandmother’s kitchen, kind of pear shaped.

Like Sesame Street’s Snufflupiguss in a ladies house coat.

Strongly resembling a really heavy set Russian Granny, called a babushka.

Got the visual so far?

And she has a bag of change.

I know she has a bag of change because she has been jingling it since she came thru the door.

That she’s homeless is not in question.

The real question is, what kind of homeless?

They come in different flavors, you see.

My favorite homeless guy is Garrett the homeless guy.

Garrett is moderately crazy, but I sometimes question it because he can pull it together when he has to.

When he comes into Starbucks for his morning Salted Caramel Latte, he is quiet and polite.

The rest of the day he is loudly arguing with himself about corporate environmental policy.

Fitz Caraldo is a huge genuinely crazy guy that sits on another corner and sing loud classical Latin songs to himself.

He doesn’t acknowledge anyone around him.

He is old school crazy.

Homeless is kind of a male dominated profession, but the lady homeless I have run into truly have some game.

I ran into a homeless woman in Carpenteria California that stood on the corner, shouting that the cars driving by were giving her AIDS.

She was epic.

Fast forward to this morning.

Lets call our new lady homeless Bag Lady.

She has three of the cheap canvas grocery bags all the stores sell now.

As I am not really in the mood for company this morning, I am somewhat glad that a young couple have pushed their stroller up against the table next to me to save it, taking their toddler over to the pick up window with them to chat.

Bag Lady swoops in, depositing her bags on the table and begins loudly asking who’s stroller this is?

Dad comes over, letting her know that they were sitting there.

Bag Lady’s next move is epic.

She turns and thrusts her face up into his, tough to pull off as he is a foot taller.

Her voice is hostile, and a little too loud.

“Well are you sitting there now?!?!”

He breaks eye contact and steps away, muttering.

Bag Lady all but cackles and plops down next to me.

And begins to count.


And not too well.

It takes three tries, but she finally counts out all of her change.

“$3.44, $3.44. I only have $3.44. I need a penny!”

She looks at the old guy to her left.

“I need a penny.”

He points at the counter, “If you ask them, they will give you one.”

She ignores him, obviously Starbucks doesn’t just GIVE people money.

She looks at me.

“I need a penny!” Her voice is a little frantic.

I decide to do the urban equivalent of falling to the ground and playing dead like a bear has wandered into camp.

I throw a little crazy at her.

“I would love to, but I lost my foot in the war.”

She says nothing, her eyes narrowing.

You can see her processing this information.

Finally, she shakes her head and bolts out of her chair, heading for the cashier.

And the sort of manager intercepts her.

“My boss says you need to get your coffee and go.”

The sort of manager has never done anything himself, only relaying the boss’s wishes.

Except that he’s the boss.

It’s weird, but it works for him.

In the end, Starbucks fronted her the penny out of the tip jar.

I am against this, because even though its only a penny, it belongs to the crew.

The Bag Lady gets her coffee creation and leaves without a word.

Well, mumbling to herself, which is kind of the same thing.

And as an odd addition to the morning, the old guy that was sitting next to her catches my eye.

“Lost your foot in the war?” He begins to laugh.

You had to be there.




Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “The coming of the Bag Lady.

  1. MR

    February 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    You know what you should do Will is wear a go-pro mounted on a bike helmet. That way you could actually capture on film some of these epic moments on film to really share with us. Not the whole thing, just stills. Plus you’d look really “special” with the helmet on and might provoke some extra attention. Just a thought…

  2. bittermac

    May 10, 2015 at 9:48 am

    That is not a bad idea. Get a “Spy cam” and get some footage.


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