The Incidental Man was a peaceful man, at least he was when I last saw him. It was on Albuquerque’s answer to Skid Row, yet another location that had once served him in another life, one among many that he had experienced. He served time on life’s tumultuous roller coaster — now a crest, now a trough, now a crest… and finally came to rest solidly in a trough with no prospect of another crest to follow.

There were many street corners to choose from, but one corner was his because it is simply the one he chose to be on. It was his own, and everyone knew it. Nobody was ever so crass as to just suddenly attempt to invade his corner or dare steal from him; that was just the code of living on the street among a bevy of other addicts — don’t lock eyes with anyone!

Homeless in Albuquerque. Photo by Geo Hand.

There was a vestige of pride in knowing the street corner had become his, and he thumped his chest ever so slightly at anyone that broke the ‘stare limit’ at his corner. The stare limit was just another code of the street that every other sidewalk dweller was kindly obligated to abide by.

‘Folks of the Street,’ is that what they really were? I mean, the notion that any of them actually touched the street except to cross to another sidewalk is not folly; they were more like ‘sidewalk people.’ They strolled, and they met each other there. They encouraged each other, and they likened more so to be so-named ‘sidewalk people,’ would that I could say.

Chivalry, the saintly acts of knights, is not dead. Photo by Geo

If the street codes were to be arranged in descending order of importance, the rule on top would be “never covet thy neighbor’s worldly possessions (stuff). We all live in a material world, but there existed no privilege to covet others’ personal belongings.

I’m put in mind of the classic hobo of yore: a dirty and portly fellow who carried his belongings tied in a bundle and fastened to the end of a long stick that he toted over his shoulder. The stick and bundle have long since given way to the market shopping cart. With skill, one could pack it full to carry upwards of 300+ pounds — certainly you jest!

A substantially sour face is all that this homeless brother had to offer me. Photo by George Hand.

A spirited vagrant could pack two carts with their material world… push one cart with one hand while simultaneously pulling the second cart with the other, all over a distance of some miles. The Incidental Man was in awe of the determination of his peers who resolved to wrangle such double-decker transport of personal goods.

The shame of the Incidental Man followed him all the way to a street corner on skid row, the farthest street corner he could find. There he became a new man; that is to say, he felt like one, and others found him to be that way. He was a brand-spanking, shiny-new man once he relinquished and dedicated himself to crank and H. Together again for the first time in his incidental world. The mix was common but devastated his part-time existence.