The VigilanceVoice
Sunday-- March 3, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 173

Vigilance And The Street Bum
Cliff McKenzie
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 street.

Food-line for the homeless

       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 great picture.  
      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.
      His 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 dial 911.
      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 apartment.
     I smiled.   My months of searching for Vigilance took hold. 
     "At least he was being Vigilant," I said, "he was using a cup."

     Go To Mar. 2 "Terrorism's Toughest Decision - Who is the Enemy?"

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