Yesterday I was sitting in the Tap Room on Beale, having a beer with some friends. A bum was walking around outside, and I decided to watch him for a while.
He’d lean against a trash can, and look around until he thought no one was watching. Then, when the coast was clear, he’d open the lid and dig through the can for buried treasure.
So he did this at the can outside the Tap Room, and – score! – an uneaten hot dog, inside a styrofoam box, and it even had a mustard packet inside. So he took the hot dog out of the box, put the mustard on, and ate it.
Then he moved on to the next trash can, again waiting until no one appeared to be looking his way. He opened it up, and – score again! – someone had thrown out half of a Big Ass Beer. So he took it out, sat on the ledge, and drank it.
Then he moved on to other trash cans. The next two didn’t offer anything interesting. Finally, he checked out one outside Silky’s. Another hot dog! This one wasn’t in a box and no mustard, but hey, you can’t always have everything. So he ate that hot dog as well. The trumpet player outside King’s Palace announced to passersby, “It’s dinnertime on Beale Street, folks.” Yes, it certainly was.
The bum then disappeared, but within 5 minutes he showed back up, playing guide to some tourists. “That place over there has the best ribs on Beale…and there are bands playing for free in that park…and they have an Elvis impersonator in that club at 6:00.” And then, of course, came the pitch: “Look here, can you help me out with a few dollars? I ain’t had nothing to eat in two days.”
So, if the bum eats for free out of the trash, what happens to the money? Look for the answer next week in my blog’s newest feature, “What the bums are smoking this week.”