Friday, July 23, 2010

Food Court: Beef Stew

I'm still getting the hang of the place and trying to fit in. Today, I think I chose poorly with my wardrobe. I wore my Captain America t-shirt, which looks really good on me, but got nothing but stares at Manna Meal.

I looked a little out of place, I guess.

So far, I've seen about everything from a couple of guys showing up in collared shirts and ties (of course the shirt was fuchsia and the tie plum-colored and was a little like out of the Prince "Purple Rain" collection) to overalls, camouflage, and a whole host of t-shirts and jeans.

A guy with a red, white and blue shield on his chest might have seemed weird. Plus, I'm new, look healthy, have no tattoos or piercings and don't have any obvious mental issues. My clothes are clean and I'm not black.

A couple of the staffers have noticed me coming around. They don't know what to make of me. The young, red-haired woman who seems to be acting as some kind of hostess, I think, is working up the nerve to come talk to me, to figure out what my deal is.

I haven't figured out what to tell her except I'm hungry and broke and if I eat lunch here, I can conserve what little resources I have elsewhere. Maybe eventually I can catch up on the utilities, the rent and everything else.

I'm just trying to get by.

Today, I shared a table with an ex-con. I knew him by how he ate, hunched over his food, almost hugging his tray. The times when I've broken bread with people who've done time, particularly a bunch of time, some of them have a habit of guarding their food. We didn't talk. He just kept looking at me with seething hostility. Any second, I expected a low growl to leave his throat.

I'm seeing some familiar faces --regulars. The grubby couple I saw warming up for a nooner in the back, some of the old people and a guy who gets by with a cane, though painfully. He and I seem to hit the door at about the same time.

I'm also seeing people from the outside world --a couple of shoplifters I recognize from Books-A-Million, including the famous one-armed bandit, a wheelchair bound man with only one arm who stole, among other things, a porno mag. He seemed to be doing well, though he was talking about running afoul of some woman's boyfriend who did not appreciate his attention to her.

Today's meal included beef stew, which was a lot of potatoes and carrots, a little beef and a thick broth, as well as a salad. The salad was mixed greens, lots of vegetables and a none of the animal semen dressing from the previous couple of days. Today, it was some sort of vinaigrette.

I didn't take the sweets. There were slices of pie (including what looked like coconut --a personal favorite) and some sweet rolls from the last couple of days. The pie looked pretty good, but I didn't take any. I would have liked to, but I guess I didn't feel like I deserved it.

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