Hobos and Hashbrowns: Week 1

I’m working at a breakfast joint. It’s not glamorous, but my coworkers are tattooed up, hipster as hell and friendly enough. It’s a pretty radical crew, but unfortunately not that radical of work.

The characters.

Blind Guy, as he likes to be called, is a blind guy who comes into the cafe every day. He is about 80 years old with a beard and blacked out sun glasses. His fingers are covered in rings, and amulets hang around his neck. He wears a woven skull cap, with two chop sticks tucked into the side. Bangles cover his ankles and wrists, and he ties everything together with a tie dye shirt, ripped dungaree shorts and straw sandals.

It’s like he’s putting on a visual show for the rest of the world, even though he himself cannot see it.

“I come in like a disheveled whore… can you help me settle in?”

I follow Blind Guy back to his table. I fill him a mug of coffee in his special mug, and he asks me to help him put on his cape. I lift a big black velvet cap onto his back. He then hands me his shawl, which is a big fluffy leopard print skin. I wrap it around his shoulders, ask if he needs anything else, and he asks me to water the pansies out front with a quart of warm water. I do so. This was by far the most exciting part of my week at work.

Blind Guy carries his own “serviette” with him, and he asks that you place any muffins he buys in his “man purse.” He eats out of a special bowl, brings his own Tupperware, and always tips $2.50 out of a 20. He asks you to check which bill he is holding in his hand when he pays you. He has a certain way he wants things done, and he is not pleased with you if you can’t comply.

“Oh Blindy, Oh Blindy. He came and bought a beet salad today, but he couldn’t see it. Oh Blindy, Oh Blindy,” D sings a ballad to the world after ringing up Blind Guy’s order.

D is the person I have mainly been training with this week. She is a pretty cool person, with infinite energy and a talent for writing and performing political anti-capitalist chants. She also periodically sings Rocky Horror Picture Show tunes at work. D lives right across the street from the cafe, right down the street from me. D can be heard singing out in her backyard on a good day.

Sitting and eating my lunch, I talk with Bran. She tells about her time train hopping, and the traveler community in Kansas City. I ask her how she knows so many hitch hikers and train hoppers in the city, and she tells me that Kansas City is a place where a lot of travelers retire. Because it’s the center of country, travelers can hop on a train in any direction when they feel like it.

Bran tells me about being on a train for 30 hours at a time. She tells me that being a train hopper as a woman is more difficult, because of the mechanics of peeing off the side of a train as a woman. However, she has two male friends who were paralyzed from the neck down from a fall after peeing off a train.

Then there is Lucy. Lucy is the comic of the crew, and someone I would like to call my dear friend if I were sticking around Kansas City. The first morning I met Lucy she commented that there was “nothing cuter” than the dirty baseball caps we all get to wear to work. Then she proceeded to talk about Star Wars, Thai food, and shitting one’s own pants because of food allergies.

The other people I haven’t really gotten to know yet, but they align along with the punk hobo attitude as well. Shady as shit and nice as hell, it’s a place I would like to be if the work was a little different.


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