I shut my ears and don’t let any of these strange people near my cart. I keep it close to me on the sidewalk with an old sneaker on a broom handle. I have my three Teddy Bears and my dangling, half-filled bottles of shampoo and water.
Each morning I go to the recycling plant and cash in my tin cans and glass bottles. I get up early before anyone else takes my spot. When I’m first, I get better service. People don’t rush me.
I hate being rushed. My father used to rush me everywhere—to the church, school, even on vacation—hurry, hurry, hurry. We could never relax. We always had to be somewhere at least fifteen minutes early.
I’m glad I don’t have to rush anymore. No needless chores or errands to consume my life. I don’t create problems when there are none. I just fall asleep in the park on an old tattered woolen blanket like I’ve done for the last twenty years. I put up a sign on my cart: ‘No Solicitation, Please.’ I’m free of relatives and wives I never see. Nothing to hold me back except the rattle of my wheezy lungs and the burning in my eyes.
I fall asleep to the automobile tires spinning on asphalt, the screeching birds overhead, the peddling boys on bicycles churning their spindly legs, and the traffic lights changing from green to yellow to red.
My life is one big rest stop.
For now, at least, the park is my home. This patch of grass is where I sleep.