The Guardian of Third Avenue

by on May 5, 2017 · 17 comments

in Homelessness

By sloan ranger

Sometimes I don’t see him for weeks and I wonder where he is.

He must cover several miles daily, walking silently up and down Third Avenue, wearing his heavy black peacoat with a hood.

I don’t worry about him in the cold so much, it’s the blistering hot days I think of him most because he has the heavy coat on then, too. The Guardian doesn’t stay in one place very long, you’re not allowed to. I know this because I heard a cop rousting another man, politely, from the doorway in an alcove of the Cox Cable building.

At this end of town, the Guardian makes his bed on the built-in concrete benches in front of the of the ATT building by the bus stop. It’s a good, if somewhat uncomfortable, bed. There is tree shade, it’s public, and you can sleep beneath the concrete benches in case of rain. But I’ve seen him much farther south, as much as five miles farther.

I used to say hello or good evening when I passed by on my walks, but he never replied. His silence was scary at first but I understand why he cannot acknowledge me. I usually say nothing now unless I’m coming out of Von’s and he’s there and I have something portable I can give him, like yogurt or breakfast bars.

Our routine is: slight hesitation on my part, no response on his, then me shoving something into his hands and running away. He must think that I’m a crazy lady, swerving across the street if I’m in the car, jumping out with: “Would you like this?” Or, “I bought too many.” And the truth is, I was for a while, crazy, that is, so I know about the food and the silence.

I’d like to take him home and let him take a shower. That seems like it would be the hardest thing about being homeless. But I am no longer the wild, carefree girl I was living in my own house. I am older now and single, and I am much more careful about who I give my address to.

The other night I was walking the long way around the block to my friend Anna’s house and I had two loaves of rye from the bread store. And there he was at his post, walking fast as usual. I had to chase him down for half a block.

I was so glad I had two loaves that night. When I asked if he would like one, for the first time ever, the Guardian looked down and I saw the vaguest flicker of a smile cross his face – not for me, for the bread. And then, after ten years, he made the only sound I had ever heard from him: “Ahhmm.”

I felt happy almost all the way to Anna’s.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles Gragg May 7, 2017 at 6:26 am

A simple story putting one’s humanity in the spotlight as an example of giving and receiving little or nothing in return except for the satisfaction of helping out a fellow human being, which may well be the greatest gift of all. Well done.


sloanranger May 7, 2017 at 11:30 pm

@CharlesGragg. thank you, Charles, for your kind comment-so good to see you here.


Colm Herron May 7, 2017 at 6:27 am

Beautifully understated. A pleasure to read.


sloanranger May 7, 2017 at 11:32 pm

@ColmHerron – Hi my friend; thank you, Colm for taking time out from ‘The Fabricator’ to read my wee article.


Steve Kay May 7, 2017 at 7:27 am

A very interesting read, how difficult it must be to be homeless.


sloanranger May 7, 2017 at 11:33 pm

@SteveKay – Hi Steve, and yes, it is difficult to even imagine. Thank you for your visit comment :))


Gail Runschke May 7, 2017 at 7:56 am

Such a heartwarming story, a beautiful act of human kindness – a pleasure to reads.


sloanranger May 7, 2017 at 11:35 pm

@GailRunschke- thank you, Gail, for your kind visit, read & comment. It is so good to see you here :)


glynhockey May 7, 2017 at 8:44 am

A very warm and engaging piece.


sloanranger May 8, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Hi Glyn – thank you for taking time from your busy day. I know you are overloaded w/your own schedule right now. Best wishes, sr.


Edwina May 7, 2017 at 5:12 pm

I do this sometimes too. A bottle of water or a breakfast bar handed through the car window to some poor old man seems better than tossing pennies at him. What can we do?


Edwina Shell Johnson May 7, 2017 at 6:54 pm

I do the same thing with bottles of water and break fast bars to the poor on the mediand of the freeway. Edwina


sloanranger May 8, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Thank you, Edwina-looks like you had trouble submitting. Have to put a username & email-the click submit. I do thank you for the kind effort, though:) Since you used your phone, not sure if it works the same way there : )


Unitika Schlawenger May 16, 2017 at 9:11 am

Humanity is still somewhat alive. Love Wins, always. It is the sharing, the being together, the caring, and the feelings which radiate it. This is a warm heartfelt piece. Surely giving a beacon of hope: “humans” are still out there.
– Unitika


sloanranger May 16, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Unitika Schlawenger – that is very kind of you Uni, I think most of us, are mostly good. All that bad stuff we see on the news is there simply because it is NOT the norm: ) Thank you for your comment.


Gia Marcano May 22, 2017 at 3:14 pm

After reading The Guardian of Third Avenue I felt chills travel throughout my body. There is a blend of beauty which sheds light on the beast of mankind. You bear philanthropy in the sense of selfless love and altruism for the greater good. Our world is filled with darkness and with light, just as understanding the emotions of no food and complete silence. The Guardian finally spoke after 10 years, possibly he too is wiser as he looked down and smiled. This piece is absolutely stunning leaving an understanding and personal experience of growth.
Thank you, for leaving me with a smile Sloan Ranger
~Gia Marcano


sloanranger May 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

I think you see much more in my little piece than I, Gia. Never-the-less I thank you very much for your kind words :))


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