Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indigents with Cell Phones, Howling Alley Dogs, and Orphaned Socks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I guess you can file the following incident under, "I thought I had seen everything in LA, until..."

I encountered a homeless guy with a cellphone and a charger. The charger baffled me the most. I could see a potential scenario where a homeless dude found a lost cell and used it until the battery ran out or until the service was disconnected, however, this disheveled guy looked like he had not showered in months. He clutched a contemporary model (nothing resembling a smart phone, but let's just say the phone is no more than two years old) that seemed out of place in his black stained fingers and grimy hands.

I wandered inside Jack in the Box very early for a Sunday morning because I was in search of my early morning fix -- Big Ass Iced Tea. The homeless guy sat in the back booth near the bathrooms. A writer-type sat on the other end of fast food joint. He pecked away on his laptop while he sipped on a cup of coffee. I once saw that same guy many months ago only because he was the one who clued me in on the secret of the Jack in the Box ceiling. He needed juice for his laptop and reached up to plug his chord into an outlet located on the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling. I quickly learned that an electrician had re-wired this particular Jack in the Box with ceiling outlets.

I purchased my Big Ass iced tea and made my way to the exit. I initially saw the homeless guy stand on his seat in his back booth, but I figured he was deranged and his bizarre activities were none of my business. Growing up in New York City, I found it best to simply ignore peculiar behavior from homeless people, because the one time you might make eye contact with them, they will lunge at you with a box cutter and attempt to sever your jugular. Alas, I ignored the guy until he pulled a power adapter out of his long frayed winter coat and then plugged it into a ceiling outlet. He pulled a cell phone out of his other pocket, hooked it up, and then sat down.

And that's how I encountered a homeless guy with a cell phone and charger. Only in LA, and only at Jack in the Box at 7am.

I learned valuable lesson that took me a couple of years of being in LA to figure out -- do not put out the recycling stuff at night because the homeless dumpster divers will rattle around said aluminum cans and bottles at 6am and wake up everyone within earshot of the alley. Even with our bedroom windows closed, we can still hear the ruckus. At least four or five can fairies stop by per day, so if we put the recycle stuff out in the early afternoon, it will get picked up by nightfall.

The annoying dogs next door is a different story. Sometimes, the douchey owners of the big dogs let them roam in the tiny backyard parallel to our alley. The problem arises when they let those dogs out in mornings, especially on the weekends when everyone is trying to get an extra hour or two of sleep. Well, they dogs go berserk whenever a someone walking a dog passes by and they really lose it when a homeless person sneaks down our alley in search of cans. They can smell the perpetrator a half a block away and they bark progressively louder and louder and scratch at the wooden fence separating the two properties. In one sense, it's good to have a guard dog, but since the dog is behind a fence -- it's virtually ineffective and the result is just noise pollution.

I fear that one morning, one of the big dogs is going to break through the fence, much like out of an old Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoon, and the outline of the dog's body will be punched out of the fence while the dog mauls the homeless guy and chews off his arm. That's why I always keep a camera close by because you never know when a mauling like that is going to happen and you'd hate to pass up a chance at snagging the next viral video on YouTube -- "German Shepard tears off arm of homeless person."

The dogs have been extra annoying recently. I have to assume that their home life has been rough, so they take out their misery on the rest of the denizens of the slums of Beverly Hills. While I sat down to write this, the dogs had an incident when a few upset neighbors were shouting across the alley. I even joined in on scorning the barkfest and unleashed a loud "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! People are sleeping in. It's the weekend for fucks sake."

The apartment upstairs has been vacant for a week. I miss our neighbors, who always smoked cigarettes at odd hours -- which means they constantly watched the alley because someone was out there at least once an hour. We're more worried that we're going to have to deal with inconsiderate neighbors. We also wonder how long it will take to rent out the place -- our slumlord is cheap which means he offers very little in return for what the market considers is a high rental price for the neighborhood. It's not a surprise that it often takes him several months (even with the help of an agency) to find a tenant -- mainly because once they see the shit hole, they know they can find a similar place a few blocks away for a few hundred less per month. Shit, whenever I take a walk down the adjacent side streets, all I see is "For Rent" signs. Why pay more for less? Which is why the slumlord either has to fix up more shit or reduce the monthly rent.

The slumlord hired a cleaner to tidy up the vacant apartment so it looks clean while they show the place to prospective renters. We're on the cusp of a new month, so he better get cracking or he'll miss out on revenue. The guys who lived upstairs left a shitload of random food in the kitchen and pantry because the cleaning service dragged one of the big ass dumpsters to the side of the building (right in front of the window where I prefer to write). The vacant apartment is located on the second floor and the cleaner was obviously lazy, so he threw trash out the window, rather than collect it in trash bags and bring them down to the dumpster. For two hours, we were treated with the sight of random jars, stale bread, and unknown condiment containers steadily fall from the sky and an echo rattled around the alley whenever something hard clunked into the bin.

Moments like that make me want to reduce the material items that have slowly been accumulating in the apartment. I usually get freak out whenever after an episode of Hoarders, and I slip into an OCD spurt and clean the fridge, removing expired items. Then, I rummage through my closet in search of clothing items to toss or donate. I also go through my collection of books, especially the ones I started and never finished, and determine which books I can give away to friends.

And what's the deal with the three solo socks that I discovered. Each sock is not even the same length or color, so it's not like I can mix and match. I have one long white tube sock and two ankle-sized socks -- but one is black and the other is white. I assume that the socks are gobbled up by the gremlins who live in the washing machine. At least one sock a month gets stuck underneath the spin thingy, and the other socks hide out in the most random places, usually underneath couches or the bed, or they wedge themselves in between other odd spaces.

Orphaned socks. Who is going to save all of the orphaned socks in the world? I considered handing over the orphans to the homeless guy at Jack in the Box, but then again, they guy has a cell phone, so he must be doing pretty good in life and presumably does not need orphaned socks.

Please, someone claim these orphans fast, otherwise, I will be forced to euthanize said sock orphans.


  1. Michael Reed1:48 PM

    The thing that perplexes me the most about the homeless guy with a cell phone is who is he calling/texting with it? Are there other homeless people running around with cell phones? Do they also have chargers for said cell phones?

    Maybe he is using it to post twitter updates, or let people know where he currently is via four square. Maybe he is using it to connect to the GPS tracker he has placed in all of his socks so that he can find the orphaned socks.

  2. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Here is my take on the orphaned socks issue.  I hate doing laundry, but it is inevitable, so, here is the plan. 

    I throw out all my old socks.  I go to WalMart and buy three six packs of identical socks.  Eighteen pair will get me through two weeks without doing laundry and give me a couple of days to spare.  So, I wash the socks, pull them out of the dryer and toss them in the drawer.  No sorting, no time-consuming matching socks into pairs and (best of all) no zizzing and fritzing like I had with the damned tropical fish.

    If I lose a sock, who cares?  For a while, I may have an odd number of socks in the drawer, but in a month or two, it will even back out.  This goes on for a year or so.  Then, I throw out all the old socks, go to WalMart and buy another set of identical socks.  Repeat as necessary.

    But, Harold, you say, how can you wear identical socks with all your various trousers, slacks, jeans and shorts???  Let me tell you something.  Any guy who tries to match his socks to his outfit is a douche-bag.  Fuck him.