October 18, 2006


I’ve been thinking about the homeless guy I saw earlier this week, the one with the HELP ME GET DRUNK sign. The librarian-in-training class I’m taking this semester is on Literacy and Services to Underserved Populations. So I should be growing more sensitive to literacy issues, right?

I already know that a staggering percentage of impoverished and incarcerated populations have very low or practically non-existent literacy skills. I imagine the same is true of homeless populations. So I started thinking What if that homeless guy couldn’t read?

What if he asked someone else to write that sign for him? What if he thought it said ‘Homeless and sober – please help’ or ‘Will work for food’? What if it’s the homeless equivalent of a ‘Kick Me’ sign joke?

There he was with a homeless guy ‘Kick Me’ sign and I’m making fun of him. I’m a jerk.

Besides affording an opportunity for me to feel insensitive, my literacy class yielded not one but two fiber arts-related run-ins last night. I went on a field trip to visit a library-based literacy class last night for a group project and it turns out one of the women in my group is a crocheter (seriously, I’m finding crochet peeps everywhere - it makes me wonder if they know something I don't). She spotted the sock-in-progress* poking out of my bag and we ended up talking needlesports for most of a lengthy T and bus ride home.

Another knitter was sitting in front of us (the 66 bus was crawling with yarny types last night), furiously working 2x2 ribbing on teeny double-points for the entire ride, so as I was getting off I asked “Sock or sleeve?” She said “Sleeve.” I said “Cool.” We shared a silent look of perfect understanding, and then I stepped off the bus.

I like to think the whole exchange had a pleasingly terse, masculine, almost Hemingway-esque vibe to it, if you can picture Hemingway with less repressed homoerotic tension and more knitting.

* “Progress” in this case being a generous term for the first inch of Socktoberfest sock # 2’s ribbing. Further progress stalled until tomorrow at the earliest due to having left said Socktoberfest sock at work. I was hoping Sock 2 would be less disaster-prone than sock 1, but thus far? Not so much.

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