At first glance –which was passing quick, as he jaywalked across a four-lane highway while we came to a stop near the traffic light– he looked like a hobo.
A disheveled, bearded, possibly train-hopping hobo. Maybe he was crossing the highway to set up camp under the stars for a night.
Maybe he was hiking to a better panhandling site, or doing hoboey things. Is there some sort of list of stereotypical vagrant stuff I should check before offending all Transient Americans in my readership?
But then as we slowed down and possibly spared his life, the logos surfaced.
Where I went to college, it was common knowledge that the dirtier the clothing; the rattier the jeans; the more beeswaxed the dreadlocks; and the more pungent the Eau de Patchouli and body odor, the flashier and more expensive the car waiting in the parking lot would be. I remember seeing people who would make a destitute person cringe in horror climbing into beautiful vintage sports cars or the newest SUV in the market without a second thought (because why should they stop to think, really? THEY’RE RICH, BYATCH!).
So when we beheld this guy nonchalantly walking in front of us as if two tons of assorted metals careening downhill meant nothing, and the logo-vomitus of NorthFace/Patagonia/REI/<Insert Other Earth-Conscious Retailer Logo Here> all over his person became apparent, a mythical California creature came into focus: the filthy-rich/filthy-pants.
The kind of person who, due to political or ethical convictions, has become so out of touch with basic hygiene that can on a regular basis be mistaken with someone who is truly in need and cannot afford to fight the chill (or hide the stink) with the aid of some feel-good $210 jacket.
The kind of person who can wheel around a $5000 bike and when seated next to it on a street corner can get complete strangers to give him food handouts.
And finally, the kind of person who can jump in front of a moving vehicle with little more than a glance because he’s obviously on a spiritual journey to the center of his being, just like The Lama.
A spiritual journey that needs a few thousand dollars more from mommy or daddy –doubtless, where he was headed, as he was walking up toward an entrance to 17-mile drive–to keep going, because he has a vision here and you people and your arbitrary crossing signals just don’t understand it, man.