Its 9 at night and I just passed Blind Tony, inexplicably sitting on the sidewalk in this back alley on the Berkeley campus right behind the UC Police Station. He’s got his cane and a small bag of stuff, but I don’t see any sleeping bag or camping stuff (hopefully he’s got it stashed in the bushes nearby).
“Hey Tony, it’s Ace,” I said. “Do you know where you are?” (like right outside the fucking police station)
“Yeah yeah I’m fine,” said Tony. We pushed knuckles in manly camaraderie.
“Hey you need anything?” I said.
“Yeah. Could you get me a cup of coffee?”
“Large if you can afford it. With 5 sugars and just a SMIDGEN of cream.”
“OK. I’ll be right back in 5 minutes.”
But I didn’t realize almost all the coffee joints were closed at this hour. I had to go all the way to Kingpin Donuts on Durant to find coffee.
When I get back to Tony, he’s got his head slumped down like he’s ready to pass out.
“Here’s your coffee Tony, its hot.” I handed him the cup.
“Thanks Ace,” he said
“Sure thing Tony. You hang in there.”
“It was good to hear ya, Ace,” he said.
That killed me. Good to hear ya.
If I’m “virtue signaling” here you can shoot me. It was my one good deed for the day. Or maybe for the week. I can’t think of many other noble deeds I’ve done lately. But the thing that gets me is: Surviving on the streets is such an exacting science. With little margin for error. How Tony has managed to survive out here for years — blind!! — is just mind-boggling to me.