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Observing Alex

Essays and poems on life, aesthetic, and society

June 25, 2019

A Long Lunch

One day at a coffee shop, I noticed that a homeless man had taken a seat in the chair next to me. As I worked on the user interface of a money management app, I would occasionally gaze over to see what he was doing.

Mostly, he sat. He watched the people come and go in the café. At one point, he took out a sandwich. He continued to observe.

He left the coffee shop after a couple of hours and sat at the bench outside. A half-hour or so later he returned to his original spot.

When the morning was long past, he left for the day.

When living in the Marina, I frequented this coffee shop, and I noticed the same man there often. He didn’t cause any trouble; he didn’t disturb anyone; he didn’t make anyone uncomfortable. He just observed.

I considered what I would do if I did not have the resources given to me that I have. Although it’s a useless hypothesis, I question my ability to sit of passively day after day. But what would I do? I get bored in my life.

Where is his community? His family? Friends? How, without pre-existing relationships, does he find a community in our modern culture? How would I?