Archive for February, 2007

R.I.P. Larry

February 18, 2007

Monday, February 5, 2007

I had been out of the office all afternoon. First a recording session, then a client meeting. It was already 4:00 by the time I grabbed a slice of pizza to go at the corner deli.

It was a brutally cold day, just as it had been for the past three or four. I paid for my slice while the guy was still warming it up, and got bundled up for the short walk back to the office.

As I approached the table Larry, the homeless guy, often occupies, I kinda hoped he wasn’t there. I hadn’t seen Larry that morning, so I hadn’t been able to give him the dollar I usually do each day. I had my briefcase in one hand, a slice of pizza in the other, and gloves on both. Reaching into my pocket to give him a dollar would have been a big pain in the ass.

I passed by Larry’s table. He was asleep in his chair—somewhat falling out of it, in fact. I was relieved. Larry was asleep. He was warm, comfortable, at peace. The last thing I wanted to do was disturb him. I’d give him a dollar the next morning.

There was only one problem; he didn’t wake up. One of my co-workers broke the news to me shortly after I had finished my slice. I went by the deli on my way home, and talked to two cops who confirmed it. Larry had died at his table. He was probably already gone when I walked by him.

Larry’s death filled me with a variety of emotions. Sadness, because I liked the man. Guilt, because I could have known him better, done more for him. Anger, because there’s no reason a person needs to die like this (the cops suspected it was hypothermia) in a country as wealthy as this one. Relief, because he’s no longer going to have to sleep on a windowsill, wonder where his next meal is coming from, and generally depend on the kindness of strangers. Relief, because I believe today he’s in a place that isn’t quite so cold.