Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Greatest Thing 2

Tuesday, at our weekly Drama Free Support Group, case manager Paul ratted me out.
The week before of course had been our trip to the LACMA, but the Tuesday previous to that Paul had purchased two 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles he thought it would be nice to introduce to the group for possible construction. We elected to start what appeared to be the hardest, I can't even remember what the picture was, but I do recall there were very few distinguishing features to help us out. We worked on that damn thing for and hour and fifteen minutes while singing songs, doing somersaults, and precision knitting. During all that time I managed to get exactly... 4 pieces to interlock. I must admit I had to use a little force on two of them.
Yesterday we returned to the puzzles. Paul came out of his office and said," Erin wants to try the other puzzle."
"Quitter," I burst out before adequately thinking about it.
"Is that okay with you guys?" I was there alongside Jose and Hardy. Rodney would soon come forth.
"Whatever Erin wants," I told Paul.
Paul smiled, and said, "You're so funny, Rick," then returned to his office to get the new puzzle, the picture being of a series of dice, poker chips, playing cards, all kinds of little features we could hunt for.
Paul soon returned with the new puzzle, which I opened with my handy dandy Bosun Knife, and poured the contents onto two tables we found there in the lobby. We had put a nice big piece of cardboard on top of the table so we could later transport the puzzle effectively.
"What's Erin waiting for? A written invitation?" I asked.
"She's busy," Paul explained.
When she finally did emerge, she came out with guns a blazing.
"I am not a quitter, Rick!"
Oh you bastard, Paul! He gave me up just like that!
"Ah... I didn't say that."
"Yes you did. We can still do the other puzzle."
"In that case, I agree, you're not a quitter. You're a postponer!"
"That's better."
We got to work on the new puzzle. All of us intently looking for pieces that would fit together.
Erin chose to find all the edge pieces to put together the frame, or border. Jose helped her, finding straight edged pieces to deliver to my lovely case manager.
"You know," I said, "there should be little numbers on the back of each of these pieces. This is too hard." Everyone agreed with me.
Soon Erin decided that she did not have enough room on our table to make the frame, so she found another piece of cardboard and moved to another close by table and worked, with Jose and myself bringing her straight edged pieces.
This indicates that Erin is not only a postponer, but an isolationist, possibly an elitist, as well.
Anyway, we worked on throughout the afternoon. After one hour and fifteen minutes I had put together exactly... four pieces.
"Got that border done yet?" I asked Erin, knowing full well she hadn't.
"Give me a freak'en break."
We all lost track of the time.
Erin asked me, "What time is it?"
"Five thirty," I told her. That was a joke. That would have been after the time she and Paul usually go home.
Erin was not amused.
"What time is it, Jose?"
"Four fifteen."
"I have to go."
We delicately put the puzzle away in the basement, hoping that the maintenance people would not mess them up.
Anyway, I wanted to relate a nice story about one of the greatest things that have happened to me since I've been living here downtown.
I told this story to my lovely case manager once in a nearby McDonalds restaurant while waiting for her iced coffee (vanilla).
I told her this:
One day, several years ago, I had made my way to the bus stop near the corner of Sixth and Central, on the northeast corner, to be exact. At the time it was raining quite hard, and a little river of water was rushing on the street near the sidewalk, rushing into the storm drain.
Fairly soon an 18 bus pulled up to the stop... and me, and opened its forward door.
Inside was a beautiful little Hispanic girl, who couldn't have been any more than four or five years old, all dressed up for the inclement weather, looking just adorable. Her mother was at the top of the steps, busy with the driver. The little girl came down the steps, looked at me, looked down at the rushing water in the street below between her and the sidewalk, then looked back at me.
And this is what happened.
She gave me a great big smile while raising both of her little arms way up toward me, thereby demanding that I pick her up and safely transport her across the watery abyss onto the safety of the sidewalk.
At this point in my story, Erin went, "Ahhhhh."
I dutifully did as the little girl demanded, settling her gently onto the sidewalk. Her mother came down and thanked me, and they continued on their way.
I got on the bus and continued on my way.
And I'll always remember that as one of the greatest things.

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