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  • Margaret

    2011 - 01.12

    One day I was parked on the corner of Occidental across from  the park. It was a much different park in the early 90’s. At that time the benches were removed so that those who were homeless couldn’t sit or sleep. If they did they were sited and taken into custody for loitering. The City wanted to keep the park safe for “legitimate” residents. I guess you have to dress or smell a certain way to be “legitimate”.

    I stepped out of my van and was surrounded by several hundred people who I asked to stand in a line so I didn’t get confused. They always humored me. As I began handing out the meals a very large woman pushed her way through the lines screaming at people to “get out of her way”. People did get out of her way because her oncoming energy was disruptive and because they were fearful of her. Her name was Margaret. She weighed about 400 lbs. She wore no shoes, even in winter, because her feet were so wide, shoes did not fit on her feet. She had oozing sores on her legs and she was angry. When she shoved her way to the front of the line I thought “holy crap, she’s going to kill me”. She screamed at me that I was a “stupid white bitch”…even though she was as lily white as me… She told me she needed more food than the “rest of them” so I gave her a lot of food, filled a black garbage bag, and sent her on her way with a promise that I would be back with things I thought she might need. She scared the be-jeezus out of me. She was 8 inches taller than me and outweighed me by 300 lbs. My heart was pounding after she left. Even the big guys were wary. One said to me, “Lunch Lady, that’s trouble with a capital T!”

    I started bringing Margaret vitamins, salve for her legs, and food that was safe for diabetics. I was sure Margaret had diabetes as well as being bi-polar and manic. Some days she was lucid and some days she was rabid, but she never was late to a meal. At the beginning of the month she could afford her meds so she was relatively calm and amiable, but, by the end of the month she was angry and rude and mean; Jekyll and Hyde…

    On the day that Ken Schram drove onto Occidental to thwart the authorities and lend his considerable public influence in my favor, Margaret was enamored. She approached me, shyly for her, after he left and asked if I could get her a picture of him because she was such a fan. I called Ken up and asked him to sign a picture for Margaret. He signed it, “to Margaret…Much Love, Ken Schram…” Margaret was over the moon. She had tears in her eyes that she roughly brushed away when I handed her the picture. I know that it became her most prized possession and she told people that she and Ken were “good friends”.

    I do not think that anyone ever loved Margaret for all of her life. No one ever made her feel special or cared for. She was utterly alone. She was full of pain and self hatred. She took it out on the world. Sometimes, when she let me, I would stand and talk with her. She was like a wary animal, always waiting for the net to fall. She told me things that had happened to her as a young girl that made me want to tear my hair and crucify the people that had abused her. I wanted to take away her pain, but I didn’t know how to reach her, or what she needed, so I just kept bringing her special foods, treats, big slippers for her feet, queen size clothing, vitamins and water. I wanted her to feel, that by my actions, I loved her. One day Margaret didn’t show up and I never saw her again…

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