Whenever and wherever I’m busking I always have to be people wary. One time I was strumming in the middle of a grocery store parking lot in broad summer daylight over the noon hour and a guy took a swing at me -- I saw it coming and ducked. What unfolded today at VALUE VILLAGE was just as unnerving, but even more bizarre. From my viewpoint it all began when a gentleman with a goatee and wearing a tam dropping a fin into my guitar case. For the purposes of the story I shall nickname him Beatnik.
“Awesome sounds, man” he said.
Immediately following Beatnik’s generous gesture a younger guy and his girlfriend stopped and chatted, and then both tossed some toonies into my case. The girl was wearing a derby hat. For the purposes of this story I shall call them Super Heroes. When the Super Heroes were walking to their vehicle they noticed a dog barking in the front cab of an older half ton truck. The temperature was hot and the windows were rolled up tight. The young guy opened the truck door, and then shut the truck door. (I’m thinking he was attempting to roll down a window but gave up.) The girl disappeared momentarily and then stuck a hand-written note under the windshield wiper, after which the Super Heroes simply got into their car and drove away, no doubt to save the day elsewhere.
Then the owner of the truck came out. He was a big, big man and had what seemed to be a week of black whisker growth on his face. He was dressed in a black jacket and jeans. He was noticeably overweight, and had on a black cowboy hat. For the purposes of this story I shall nickname him the Cowboy. Cowboy grabbed the note off the windshield, read it, and threw it to the ground.
Then Cowboy looked around. IF LOOKS COULD KILL!
“F**k!” he yelled at Beatnik who just happened to be standing beside a bicycle right next to Cowboy’s truck. “Keep your f**kin’ hands off my truck!” Cowboy yelled.
“F**k you! I never touched your f**king truck!” Beatnik hollered back.
Then they both moved toward one another. But wait a second … the Beatnik retreated a bit, grabbed the chain-lock for his bicycle and in lasso fashion started swinging it over his head as he walked toward Cowboy. (This is fitting I guess, considering he was going to fight with a cowboy.)
I had to intervene.
“Hey man, he didn’t do it!” I stated to Cowboy as I walked toward the both of them.
“F**k you!” he yelled at me. “If you saw who did it why the f**k didn’t you stop it!”
“I didn’t stop it because I thought they owned the truck,” I said.
“Big f**kin’ help you are!” he said.
“You got the wrong guy. I saw who did it. It wasn’t him,” I repeated.
“Well f**k the both of you!” he said as he charged toward me. I gulped. “Now my f**kin’ dog’s gonna die because some asshole locked my truck!”
“You don’t have the keys?” I asked.
“I left them in the f**kin’ truck!” he screamed.
And so on it went until Cowboy disappeared into the mall to buy some tools to unlock his truck. I helped him a bit when he came back out and not so surprisingly …. he had calmed down.
I AM A WATCHMAN.
A WATCHMAN (in the bible) monitors the prophets. I’m certainly not that guy … but I am a WATCHMAN (in a buskspot), and I, too, monitor the profits (pun intended).
My act of being a watchman is observing the hoi polloi and their interactions, usually without their knowledge. Being a watchman involves picking up on idiosyncrasies and trying to guess THEIR stories.
SIDEBAR: Whenever I’m busking I’m thinking that my potential consumers are thinking … Hmmm … this guitar guy looks normal … he’s fairly articulate … he seems congenial … hmmm … I wonder what HIS story is … that he’s reduced to this … busking on the sidewalk.
Being a watchman certainly helps pass the time. The CHAUCERIAN PARADE of characters marching by my space could be endomorph, ectomorph, or mesomorph. Some of these passers-by could be smart, some could be dumb, some really are interesting, and some are really very dull. And of course, some are happy-go-lucky and some are sad-faces.
As a watchman I see a variety of people in their day-to-day costumes. Of course, I see beatniks in tams and cowboys in cowboy hats and super heroes wearing derbies, but I see many, many others, too. I see jocks sporting football jerseys; I see biker dudes with chaps; I see gangster wannabees with their bandanas.
As a watchman I see moms and their children shopping for deals at Value Village. As a watchman I see people talking to themselves on their smoke breaks.
Being a watchman I am able to observe humanity in its diversity and its similarity. This particular act of observation from my buskspot is not voyeurism, nor is it stalking. Simply put, this act is only a detached observance from the vantage point of a busker. (It’s kind of like bird watching really … if comparing beings to birds is appropriate.)
Meanwhile back at the ranch … where a raging cowboy is attacking an innocent beatnik for the collateral damage of a couple of super heroes. The cowboy was in a rage because somebody, attempting to save a dog from heat stroke, locked his keys in his truck. The beatnik just happened to be standing beside the cowboy’s truck. The super heroes thought they were saving a dog; instead, they caused a commotion.
LIFE IS FILLED WITH SURPRISE …
BUT AS A SEASONED WATCHMAN
(I am a faux busker remember) …
NOTHING IN LIFE IS A SURPRISE.
Life is filled with surprise. Those marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:
|TRAVIS AND BEAUTIFUL IZZY AND TRAVERS|
|NATALIE, MY FAVORITE DOG LOVER, SENT ME THIS PICTURE|