In bum life, a kick-down is when someone gives you some food, money, or something else of value, whether you spanged it, flew signs, or busked for the kick-down. Last night we were out in downtown Minneapolis looking for some kick-downs for food and gas for the big hippie van that my friends Brian and Emily travel in, with my road girlfriend and a dog with them.
Hungry, tired from the road, and without booze, no one was in high spirits as we parked the van on Nicollet Island and headed toward the bar block. It was mid-day, so not many people were out, regardless of it being a Friday. Opening the guitar case for business and trying to get Mogli (that damn dog) to calm his shit anyway, our hot May day was not bringing in the most business.
Tired, hot, hungry, and frustrated, Emily and I decided to dive some street dumpsters. It’s amazing the sorts of things people throw away. While some people look at trash cans as, well, trash cans, others look at them like gold mines, where you can find half cigarettes, half-eaten burgers, and half-bottles of soda. That’s the trifecta of a bum meal, especially if the soda comes in an opaque container so that you can fill it with beer later.
The dumpsters were pretty dry, but I managed to find a barely-eaten meatloaf burger that I gave to the troop to heighten their spirits. We also stopped by a bar to get water for Mogli, and the bartender filled a to-go container with water so that that giant dog could actually fit his face in it.
A couple of dollars, a couple of beers, and some yelling at a dog later, we reposted our asses over by Sneaky Pete’s, where our luck remained fairly minimal. I took off again for some dumpster diving and found a whole, unopened box of granola bars. It was the golden jackpot of the day and my spirits were lifted like a kite.
I headed down to the Anime Convention to run into some friends and bum some cigs for the group and did just that, finally turning around after an hour of tomfoolery. On the way back, an elderly man and his friend who were sitting outside of Chipotle saw me digging around in the trash and called me over.
“What the HELL are you doing?”
Explaining to an older man that you’re a nineteen year-old who hangs out with street kids and never has enough food to eat is like telling your parents you do hard drugs, apparently. This man, who had just regaled his new friend with tales of having been a gang-banger, was struck down by the idea that a pretty girl like me wouldn’t be able to pay the bills and would spend all of her time hanging out on the streets with bums.
His friend, who turned out to be a minister, was much less shocked and more interested in making sure I was fed. Here comes the story of the time I almost got a hella kick-down.
He asked me how many people were in my group and I told him we were four total. He smiled and told me he would get me and my friends Chipotle. Of course, I told him that I couldn’t accept so much kindness from a stranger, but he insisted. We walked to the doors of Chipotle only to find them locked – of course, it was after ten pm. Bars were going down on the doors of Target and tired employees were damn sick of making burritos.
He apologized that he couldn’t help more and I told him it was fine and thanked him for his generosity. At the end of the day, I had my granola bars and more faith in humanity based on the kindnesses of others.
Though it may not be a meal ticket, cigarettes, beer, or gas money, human compassion is one of the best kick-downs you can receive sometimes. It reminds you that we are all just humans and must exist on this planet together, through hell or high water.
Be good to your local bum, your neighbor, and the guy who rings up the granola bars you’re going to ditch in a dumpster five minutes later. Be good to the angry-looking lady walking down the street and the dude who rolls up a joint ten feet away from the cops. Hell, be good to the cops.
Something good will happen to you if all you put into the world is good and that is a damn fact.
I love you!