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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The charity collectors were out

On the way to the dermatologists’ the other day I saw a man walking along heading west with his mobile phone attached to his ear and he was talking to someone on the other end. I head him say the word “program” but didn’t catch a complete phrase.

I passed by a number of schoolboys in brown uniforms that had light-coloured piping on the edges of the material, who were collecting money for the Salvos. The jackets of their uniforms had school crests sewn onto the fabric where the heart is situated. There were two sets of boys dressed in this way on Pyrmont Bridge and they held in their hands white plastic bags with red designs printed on them. Near the city end of the bridge, one of the charity-collectors, a boy of about sixteen, asked me if I wanted to give money and I turned my head as I walked and told him that I gave a lot of money to charity. It wasn’t true but I reminded myself that it’s certainly true that I often do give money to beggars I see on the street.

I went to the office building where the doctor’s clinic is located and ascended in the lift. The treatment was about four minutes long and I was feeling a bit light-headed at the end of it. I dressed and put my shoes on and told the receptionist I had finished the treatment.

In the lift going down there was a woman of about my own age holding a large plastic bag full of some sort of supplies. She was talking with an Asian man in his thirties. I caught some of their conversation. It appears that there had been a water leak in the building that morning. The woman was saying that someone from the security company had driven past the building early in the morning and had seen water coming out from its front doors. The Asian man got out of the lift at the fourth floor and the woman got out on the first floor. I took a photograph (see below) outside the building showing the street as it was at about 9.30am.

In Pitt Street Mall I handed five dollars to a young woman who was sitting on the pavement with a small black dog held in her lap. She had terrible teeth. Several teeth in her skull were badly discoloured, giving her a decrepit look when she smiled, as she did when she said, “God bless you.” I bought a pide at the food court under Myer and savoured the tasty filling made from minced beef. There were black and white sesame seeds sticking to the outside of the bread, giving the food an exotic flavour.

After the food, I walked through the underground tunnel to the QVB and went up the stairs to street level. At the corner of Kent Street I gave another five dollars to a beggar who was sitting on the pavement with his back to the traffic, which is quite heavy for most of the time during the day at this point. He had a shaggy beard and he told me to have a good day as he palmed the banknote in his dirty hand. I walked to the bridge and near its western end there was a mother aged in her thirties with a small child aged about four. The little girl was walking a few paces behind her mother and wore a pink hat on her head to protect her against the sun. As I passed them she was asking her mother something that I didn’t catch but that sounded like, “Where are the omelites?” I’m sure that this was not what she actually said but the consonants in her mouth were not clearly defined and the sounds all ran together as she spoke.

Near the casino there were two women walking toward me who were talking to one another. As I passed them the one on the left, who was wearing tight black pants, could be heard saying, “Oh yeah?” Her delivery started on a high note and the opening of the second syllable was lower than its remainder. The word was stretched out to contain all the expression the woman wanted to embed in her vocalisation. She was showing her interlocutor that she had understood what the other person had been saying and that she was merely making that point clear. The phrase didn’t contain any agreement as to the truth of what the other person had said.

On Harris Street as I was walking past an office building there were two men sauntering along deep in conversation. One of them, who was about my age or a bit older and who was wearing a jacket, said the word “yesterday”. I didn’t catch the rest of what he said. His younger companion was, like him, kind of swaggering slowly along the street in a way that suggested indolence although it was clear that the relationship between the two men was a professional one. They might have been workers in two separate parts of the same company. Their lazy demeanour was not necessarily reflected in their words, which seemed to be focused on important matters that they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to share in such detail.

I bought a toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich at the Olive Station shop near the light rail, where the Korean lady works, and took it home held in my hand. The bread was warm in my fingers through the aluminium foil wrapping it.


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