Saturday, February 23, 2008


Jim is seen every morning at McDonald's. He gets the sausage, egg, & cheese biscuit, 2 for $1, and coffee. He eats one biscuit and saves the other for his small dog, waiting in his old van outside. A nice, quiet, gentile little dog that does not bark. Jim gets an income as a photographer by selling his photos to St Augustine tourists. He is about 68 years old, grey hair, thin build and intelligent. He has lived for 15 years at Pacetti's Trailer Park, about 7 miles from Green Cove Springs and drives in every day to McDonald's. The trip from there to St Augustine is 30 miles. He recently had to endure a lot rental increase that strained his resources. About four years ago he financed the purchase of a trailer for $9,000. He still owes $2,500 and has not been able to make the payments for over five months. He tried to sell his trailer but there are no buyers. The finance company is foreclosing and he must let it go. With the increase in gasoline prices, the trips to St Augustine have become expensive. He has credit card debt over $3,000. His Plan: Live in the van, which provides him with a bed in which he can fully stretch out. Park in a St Augestine, Wallmart parking lot each night. (A method used by Clarence Thomas, Justice of the Supreme Court, when he travels in his MotorHome.) Food will be eaten on the fly so-to-speak, no room for cooking. Showers and laundry will be done at a nearby truck stop. His van is all paid up but he had to choose one shorter than he would have liked. He bought what he could afford. He has recently serviced it for tires, brakes, tuneup, etc. He says he does not want his new home to become incapitated. He has window screens for the summer. I asked him what he would do if it got cold at night. His response, "Be cold." He has rented a storage unit 5'x10'x10', for 500 cubic feet of space. He keeps his photography equipment, fishing gear, books, memorabila, etc. in it. No furniture, that stays with the trailer as does the washer and dryer. He will be able to control his expenses so that he can pay off his credit cards. He hopes to save enough in the future to buy a larger van for additional comfort. Here is the question: Is Jim truely a homeless person? Home means many things to different people, especially politicians. Will he be numbered in the agregate of the "homeless"? His standard of living is quite good compared to that of others. He will not go hungry, nor will his dog. There are some comforts that are unavailable to him, but there is a freedom that few have. He does not feel sorry for himself, but has decided to live within his means. Renting a lot on which to park a home is beyond his means, and this is the course he has chosen in order to get by. I don't believe I will see Jim again because his last day at Pacetti's is March 3rd. After that he will be living near St Augustine. I wished him well as we parted today.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Many years ago, I was driving through Georgia at night on US 27. It was very flat land and it was about 3:00 in the morning with no other traffic on the road. In the distance I saw a green traffic light and before I got there the light turned to red and then to green again. When I finally arrived at the light it was red and I stopped. I looked around and there were no other cars in sight, either on the crossroad or on my road. It was a bit wierd, this light holding me there when nothing was in sight. The other day I was on FL 17 at 5:00 in the morning and as I drove I could see ahead that I had a green light. It stayed green for a long time and I made it through on the green. There were a few other cars on FL 17 with me and all were going through the green light. The next light also stayed green and we all got through that light. It was obvious that the lights were not timed, they just stayed green. When getting onto FL17 from my subdivision, the light will change shortly after I arrive. There are electrical lines embedded into the street that sense the presence of the car. Once detected, the light will take a little while to change and if there are cars behind it stays green until all the cars are through. When the sensors show the street cleared of cars the light changes to red. These sensors are at all four corners of the street and are very effective when someone needs to make a turn. If nobody needs to turn, the light does not change but allows traffic to continue. It is amazing to see three lanes of traffic on FL 17 meeting three lanes of traffic on a crossroad. Everybody is accomodated as needed. If a lane does not need a light change it does not change and traffiic flows smoothly. I like and appreciate changes like this.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mall Watching

While waiting for Pat's car to get a 45,000 mile service, we were informed that we could have a courtesy car take us to the mall instead of waiting at the dealer. We went there and stayed inside for two hours and outside for one hour. While there, it was apparent that the people at the mall fall into different tribes. the first tribe we noticed was the Muffintops. They are all overweight and bellies hang over the tight fitting pants. Then there was the Phunnyhats, those that can not wear a hat properly, with beaks to the side, rear, up, upsidedown, anything but the correct way. Of special mention is the Crotchknee tribe. This tribe is composed only of males, who disdain actually looking at females but are confidant that their attire is compelling females to look their way. When in a group of three or four, one (the leader) will actually have a hand devoted excusively to holding his pants up. A close kin to the Crotchknee is the Squarerig, identified easily by a very large, white tee-shirt that goes all the way down to just above the knee. Squarerigs are always mesomorphs giving the impression of huge muscular bodies under the white sails. The pants for both tribes are identical. The Watusi were often sighted, tall ladies with excellent carriage, bright makeup, high hairdo, spike heels and large, brightly colored, sequined purse. The Watusi are singular individuals walking with a purpose to only they know where. While sitting outside, near the Movies, we saw many Breeders, always accompanied by small unkept children. Sometimes the children would be ahead drawing rebuke from the Breeder to watch out for the cars, and other times the children would fall behind and then no attention was paid to them. Breeder children always wear flip-flops and from time-to-time one will lose a flip-flop and fall behind while trying to get it back on. The Breeder never notices this trouble because of the need to always look into the parking lot. Outside was where we witnessed the mating attempts of the Autosounds. They roll slowly by with all windows down and heavy-base speakers turned up to max decibells. The car will perceptibly slow when going by females, sometimes honking the horn, yet, once by them, it will immediately speed up letting out an engine roar to announce their leaving. Autosounds do not get a chance to mate because once a female approaches the car she cannot make herself understood over the noise. The Autosound does not know how to reduce the volume and never meets her. Because of this Autosounds do not reproduce. Additional Autosounds come from the Sillyass tribe who are immensely dim witted and want desperately to be cool. There were a few Newskins observed. Their tatoos over exposed arms, legs, neck, low back and ankles are a compensation for zero personality. If outside, they will be found smoking quietly while avoiding eye contact with everyone. Sillyasses can be easily swayed to join the Newskins. We only saw two Entreprenures. Entreprenures have cell phones to their ears and are talking earnestly to someone. They move from one side of the entrance to the other, never slowing down, always observing the road into the parking lot and the whole parking lot. We overheard one saying he had earned sixty today and yesterday he earned six hundred. They have a cigarette in one hand and continuely flick the ashes. Near the childrens playground we became aware of some Deniers. Deniers are often found single but can be paired with another Denier. Their children, seeing the children playing on the climbing toys, want to join in the fun, but the Deniers say no and try to usher them quickly past. Children of Deniers often look backwards to see the fun they are missing. The courtesy car driver finally showed and took us back to the dealer.