Sunday-- March 3, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 173
Vigilance And The Street Bum
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
Mar. 3--When you're looking for
Vigilance, it can be seen everywhere. Just as when you look for
Terrorism, it also dominates all you view.
Yesterday morning I ran into my
daughter, the Conservative Republican one who works as a federal law
enforcement agent. Unlike her older sister, she has little
patience for the disenfranchised, marginalized people of the street.
It's not that she's passionless about their plight--but rather she works
in a field where daily she sees the horrors created by those who make up
their own laws, and often will cut a person's throat for a pocketful of
change to get what they want.
Anyone in law enforcement who works
the streets ends up with a thick crust around them. It's part of the
job, right or wrong. It protects them from the dangers of
Food-line for the
Ironically, my other daughter--who fights
for the rights of the disenfranchised and marginalized by offering them
food and clothing and counseling--sees them as lost souls. She
attempts to nurture them back to self sufficiency.
We were walking back to my Conservative
daughter's apartment. I was helping her carry her laundry. We
were talking when we turned the corner near her apartment. We
didn't stop dead in our tracks, but there was a mutual desire on both our
parts to do so.
"Dad, too bad you don't have your camera with
you," she muttered under her breath.
I saw it too. It would have made a
There, leaning into a phone stand as though he
were calling someone, was the remnants of a human being. His
clothes were fouled with the stench of the street, tattered, torn, grimy
with the residue of a city bursting with eight million people, upon whose
sidewalks he stumbled, upon whose filthy concrete he slept, into whose
garbage cans he rummaged for cans and bottles and any treasures that might
become his to trade or sell for his next drink.
face was thin, gaunt, colorless. His shoulders were hunkered forward
into the aluminum shell sitting atop a four-foot pole, engineered to take
the least possible space on the sidewalk. At first, he looked like
he might have died there, frozen in some feeble last posture attempting to
His hands were down near his sides, hanging
lifelessly to the casual observer, but to us, bearing down on him, we saw
they were holding something.
He was clutching the edges of cup, a 20-ouncer, a clear
plastic one that revealed its contents. It was against his groin,
held fast by his thumbs and forefingers.
To reach my daughter's apartment we had to walk past
the man, the figure of the "end of the road," an anti-Rockwellian portrait
of American city life.
I didn't say anything to my daughter. I didn't tell her
I had my camera with me in my bag. I didn't want to stop and
take a picture of a man's lost soul peeing in a cup, trying to appear as
though he were making a phone call as cars and people whizzed by.
"Can you believe?" my daughter said as we reached her
I smiled. My months of searching for
Vigilance took hold.
"At least he was being Vigilant," I said, "he was using
Go To Mar.
2 "Terrorism's Toughest Decision
- Who is the Enemy?"
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