I want y'all to meet Queenie, my road dawg. She's my Moanday Mail Bag mascot. She's a little bashful, but she loves to dress up and the girl has a weakness for make-up. I'm low-key--she's high maintenance. She sports a nose ring--I have a toe ring. I like to drive--Queenie keeps an eye on where we're going. We're quite compatible.
We were at the post office again. We were passing by, so we swung down the road we know so well, and turned into the parking lot. It's like the Honda drove itself by rote. It wasn't our usual post office--No-o-o, not the one on Park Row, where the nice clerks are. We used the one that's closer. We used the one off Cairn Way and Hwy. 6; and we saw a sight we were unfamiliar with.
I almost took a picture but didn't want to be rude. It was just that unusual, and since we didn't want to stare, we didn't. An old adage came to mind: Take a picture. It'll last longer, but I immediately put myself in the woman's shoes. I wouldn't want someone to take a picture of me if I were in the same situation. And so I refrained.
You see, there was a young woman sitting on the step before the doors to the post office. She sat hunched over. Her left knee touched the nice, padded baby stroller parked next to her. A tall hedge gave them move shadow than shade, from a cool spring sun. She held up a sign each time someone walked past. I barely focused on the handwriting, but I saw the words food, children . . . It was hard reconciling the images with the words.
Again, you see, the woman was quite fashionably dressed. The infant/toddler was dressed better than most, and the stroller was top of the line. The baby was fat, energetic, and wide-eyed. It wasn't crying because it was hungry. It didn't look malnourished. It was clean . . .
On my way out, after I'd deposited my two letters and a postcard, I slowed down with the intention of simultaneously asking the woman what was wrong, and reading the sign. My conscience wouldn't let me walk past without trying to help. The only words that registered were ". . . child at home . . . need food . . ." before I lost interest. I did ask, "What's wrong?" before she turned away. She gave the impression that she wanted me to believe she didn't speak English. But she lost my sympathy when she hid the card the second she saw a customer coming towards us wearing a windbreaker like ICE officers wear. The woman wore and ID badge, too, and walked like she meant business. As I veered away to my vehicle, I couldn't help but wonder: If she has a child at home who is hungry and in need of help . . . Well, who was watching it?
I still wonder why she was there. And why was she being allowed to beg in front of a federal building? Was she really in need? What was her story? I won't forget the big grin the baby gave me before I put the key in the Honda's ignition. He grabbed the rail on his stroller and stood up--all black hair, ecru skin, and a great big pink grin.