A Day With Those People

October 7, 2007
By
The following vignette is written in the style of Sandra Cisnero's The House on Mango Street.


A Day With Those People
By: Megan Da Silva

Those People. You know, the people who don’t have names, the ones who aren’t needed. The people that are just there, sedentary like a solid marble statue, then sometimes trembling and shuddering habitually, incessantly. Those people don’t have lives, they are failures, and they can’t even afford a meal.
Well, that’s wrong, and I can prove it.

You know that man?
The one you shun, the one you feather-dust away like the dust on top of your household furniture. The one who sits on the street corner, depending on the grimy, besmirched wall for support. The one who makes your nose twinge with disgust and revulsion. The one whose clothes are tattered, in need of a deep cleaning, and the one who looks as if they are in need of a deep cleansing.
Yes, that man.

Or, how about that woman?
The woman who tells you good morning, giving you a cheery grin, flashing her tarnished and tainted two teeth. The only teeth she has left, the rest are gone, gone a long time ago. The one you “fail to hear,” the one you ignore. The same woman who walks up and down the street in that threadbare dress that looks like she draped a raggedy blanket around her thin, under nourished frame. The woman that you refuse to look at, to acknowledge.
Yes, that woman.

Well, I met this man, and I met this woman, and I met the rest of those people. I met them in that section of the city, the one shaped like a peace of meat, the chunk of the city that teems with those people, the people everyone shuns, the people everyone rejects, pushing them away into that small neighborhood that the ignorant look upon with disdain.

Walking to St. Anthony’s Dining Hall, talking and laughing with my classmates, shivering in the thin black sweater, I see the environment transforming. From the clean sidewalks of my well-kept school, to the mucky, unwashed street sides of the Tenderloin. From clean-smelling air, to the congested, urine filled stench that fills your nostrils. From the people walking to their offices and shopping in the stores, to the scruffy, unkempt people crowding the streets like ants over scraps of food someone left after a picnic.

Sitting at the tables, I talk to the people, the rejected people of our city, the acclaimed San Francisco. I see what you don’t, I see a community filled with interesting people, people filled with knowledge. The kind of knowledge they don’t teach you at school, the kind of knowledge you don’t read about in your fancy text books. They are filed with the knowledge of life experience. These people, these people know despair, these people know exasperation, these people know demoralization, but these people also know the importance of community and hope, and that is what these people find at St. Anthony’s, where they eat together, forming bonds of friendship that will last longer than any friendship I have ever had. And I, I was there to witness it all.

While serving, I elbow a man sharply in his arm. I instantly feel that worried feeling, the kind you get when you know you have done something wrong, and I immediately say, I’m so, so sorry.

And that man, the man who I have never seen or spoken to before, replies to me, no sweetheart, friends don’t never need t’ say sorry.

This will certify that the above work is completely original. -Megan Da Silva





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