Letter from the Editor 

Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign

Sitting there by the left turn line

Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze

One leg missing, both hands free.

No one's paying much mind to him

The V.A. budget's stretched so thin.

And there's more comin' home from the Mideast war.

We can't make it here anymore. — James McMurtry

A rainy fall day in Memphis, dreary and gray and drizzly. I've got to drive around downtown and run some errands at lunch. I stop at a red light at Union and Third. On a nearby bench sits a man with his T-shirt pulled over his head. He's wet and no doubt miserable, and no one can see his face. Just another "bum." A lost ball in life's high weeds. What are you gonna do? WWJD? I dunno. I've got errands to run. As I pull away, he has his hand extended, his face still hidden, his story a mystery.

I pull into a fast-food joint near Danny Thomas. Sitting on the curb is a man with maybe four teeth in his head. He has the look of a crazy person. He's wet and sitting in a puddle, talking to people as they pull up to the microphone to place their orders. Most people ignore him.

He's not really talking. He's chanting, "Chaaaannnggge," drawing out the word like a mantra. "Chaaaannnnggge."

"What's your story," I ask.

"I got no money, no place to live, and I'm wet. What do you think?" The guy is fairly well-spoken. He doesn't seem crazy, just resigned to his misery. He says he's a vet, and he doesn't have his "meds," and he's living in shelters and on the street. I give him a buck. He says, "Thank you, sir," then sits back down on the wet curb.

"Chaaannngggge," he chants.

I drive the wet streets, listening to the lady on NPR talk about the trillion-dollar federal bailout of our banks and investment firms. This massive infusion of funds is meant to save our economy, she says. We have to rescue the credit markets. Meanwhile, the poor and hungry walk the streets of Memphis, no change in sight — and the only thing trickling down is the rain.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Pin and Bear It

    • Why The Fuss?

Blogs

Tiger Blue

Tigers 62, UAB 55

News Blog

UTHSC Awarded Grant to Study Tobacco Use in Military

News Blog

Here Comes the 'Ikea Effect'

Politics Beat Blog

Dems' State Senate Leader Foresees Clashes with Haslam

Politics Beat Blog

Medical Marijuana Coming to Tennessee?

News Blog

MadAir Event on Saturday

Music Blog

River Records' Jerry Gibson Killed in Store

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies 88, Trail Blazers 86: Haiku Game Notes

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

  • Where Nobody Knows Your Name

    The hacktivist group Anonymous announced last week that they would be outing hundreds of Americans who were involved with the Ku Klux Klan. The group claimed that they'd hacked KKK servers and obtained emails and documents that would reveal that many prominent American politicians were associated with the white supremacist group ...

    • Nov 5, 2015
  • Vendor in the Grass

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare

    Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.

    • Mar 31, 2016
  • Pomp and Circumstances

    I attended the White Station High School graduation ceremony last weekend. My stepson crossed the stage without incident, got his diploma, and is now ready to fly the nest, come September. He's a great kid, a good student, and we're very proud of him. (Not as proud as a few families, who, despite pleas from the principal to refrain from applause and demonstrations of enthusiasm, went nuts when their family member crossed the stage — signage, horns, etc. We opted for the restrained and tasteful, "Whoo!") ...

    • May 28, 2015
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation