Thursday, July 1, 2010

Give Pack Back, Get Pack Back

I woke up with $0.00 this morning.
It has been 16 hours since my last beer.

Yesterday, the experiment in sobriety ended at the 40th hour. I left the library, after blogging and facebooking for about 3 hours. I still had the $2.59. It was raining, and I had just realised that, in focusing upon blogging, I had gone past the time when one must pick up one's baggage from out of 15 Place. "Any bag left past 4pm. will be donated to Goodwill," is what the sign on the door states. I was wondering how serious they were about enforcing that rule.

I started to think about all that I have in my backpack: birth certificate, ID, all of my hygiene stuff, etc. There were even extra shirts in there, I thought, as I noticed that the rain was ushering in cooler air. It has been cold some mornings, getting down to 70 degrees, and I have woken up and thrown on an extra shirt, on a few occasions. I was worried, too about the things in the bag that weren't coming to mind, which might be important at some future juncture. (It was the mosquito repellent, which fit this "I know I'm forgetting something" category. (More on that later, under the heading "I Am Eaten Alive")

I kind of went to the store and bought a beer, and then tried to buy a cigarette off someone for a quarter. I am wondering if I am keeping myself broke to protect myself from myself. There was a panhandler out front, who wanted a quarter.

I drank a couple more, which left me exactly no money. I actually had to borrow 5 cents off of the guy who wanted the quarter, in exchange for giving him a sip off of the third beer. I told myself that I was loosening up for my performance at Serda's Coffee, and that I felt better to be rid of the money, because it was "burning a hole in my pocket," and tempting me to get beer. The temptation was gone. I went to Serda's Coffee.

Upon arriving at Serda's, I noticed a pack of American Spirit cigarettes, unattended and laying on a ledge under one of the front windows. It looked abandoned to me. These are the same kind which the kind man gave me, along with the sandwich, after I had earlier chosen to come this way, instead of the beer store way. The pack was almost full. I took it, while trying to see out of the corners of my eyes, if there was any movement which might indicate someone noticing me picking them up, perhaps the owner. I didn't hear anyone say "Hey, those are mine." It could have been an empty box. I went around the corner to smoke one and hid the pack under a trash can, while asking myself "Why am I hiding them if I don't feel guilty about taking them?"

Once inside, the MC greeted me warmly and told me the spot that I would be occupying on "the list." I was to have others play after me. "Good," I said. "That way, there will still be an audience here!"

As I was stepping out for an American Spirit, between performers, the MC made the announcement "If anyone found a pack of American Spirit cigarettes, they're mine!"

I went and got the things and brought them to him, saying "They looked abandoned; I watched them for a minute and nobody seemed to belong to them..." He seemed very happy to have his American Spirit cigarettes back. They're expensive.

I played a self-satisfying set of songs, mixed in some comedy, and, apart from a few young girls, who were only there to videotape their boyfriends playing, so they can twitter and myspace and utube with their expensive toys, and who payed little attention to me, the audience liked it. I even had a request for The Carcass Song from the MC, who had just finished an American Spirit cigarette.

I think that the one American Spirit from the guy with the sandwich was of God, because I had made a good decision. I think the 15 American Spirits in the box were of the devil (he would offer more,) and a test to see if I was so pathetically addicted to tobacco that I would steal from the very MC who was giving me a chance to put my songs out in front of people. I felt better on some deeper level, than if I had had the "comfort" of knowing that I would lay down with American Spirits on me. Doing the right thing is more satisfying than a cigarette...barely....

Even Cigarette Man (shown here in Jacksonville) would agree.

"...You got a cigarette? You need a cigarette? Here you go, here's a
cigarette. You don't have to pay me back..." -
Cigarette Man Emanuel (The Cigarette Savior, The Tobacco Messiah)

I went to my "abandoned factory" spot and layed down. It was past midnight.
I hadn't been there 15 minutes when, The Black Man With The Fishing Pole, and his friend, Martin, were on the scene.
I told them that there weren't many dry spots, and directed them to one which I had found, further down, but had moved away from, because of being eaten alive by some kind of insects. They didn't seem concerned about insects. Black people may have thicker skin than us Caucasians.
They gave me a cigarette.
Later, they entrusting me to guard their bags and the fishing pole, while they went to the store. Upon returning, they gave me 3 beers. I soon had my guitar out and was practising. They found this amusing, and commented "Now that you had some beer, you feelin' it, huh?"
I woke up right on time to make it to The Coffee Club. The breakfast has been served all week by a youth group from a church somewhere in South Carolina. Yesterday morning, one of the girls (the one giving out the bread) told me that she would be praying for me, after I had told her that I had gone 36 hours without a beer. This morning, she said "Good morning, Daniel."
She had remembered my name.
After I was done eating, her and a couple more came over to my table, once I was by myself, and asked me if I was "still sober." I had to break the bad news, blaming it on worrying about my bag at 15 Place, which may have been thrown out with my "whole world" in it. One guy took out his cell phone and called 15 Place, on behalf of "Guitar Man," and asked them to hold the bag for me. I walked briskly over there and got it.

Having the backpack back was a relief, yet, it came with a price.
Mr. McDonald, who had become aware of the situation, asked me why I was there. I think he already knew why I was there. He was also aware that my temporary membership had elapsed, and told me that I could now only go there to eat at noon; no more keeping my bag there.
Now, when I come to the library, I have to hide the thing outside before going in.
A Trolley Driver Gives Me 5 Dollars
Just outside the library, as I was crossing the street to get here today, one of the trolley buses stopped in front of me. The door opened to reveal the driver, holding out a five dollar bill towards me. "Here, get yourself a beer," he said, handing it to me. Now I have 5 dollars. A beer would taste good.

Porsha Gives Me A New Guitar Case
A few days ago, the zipper on my guitar bag broke. I had been carrying it with shirts tied around it to keep it closed. Just a minute ago, Porsha, the ambulance worker, came and tapped my shoulder, as I was sitting here, and handed me a new guitar bag. It's tan with green trim.
I now go to call The Mobile Bay Adventure Inn to see if they want me to play this weekend. They are having a big convention for Jehovah's Witnesses. They are not sure if Jehovah's Witnesses like acoustic guitar music. Then I may go for a coffee. I do have 5 dollars.

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