I work in an office complex in downtown Chicago. It's a collection of three nondescript office towers near the lake, connected with some small plazas. It's a nice place to work, but not particularly exceptional.
As with any downtown area, there are occasional homeless people that wander around, looking for some help from the overly blessed nitwits that work in the area. I'm a rather nice guy, so I try to pitch in where I can, but I limit my graciousness to those that hang around my office plaza, as I have a firm belief in acting locally when dealing with such delicate matters.
One of these people is Crazy Mary. Crazy seems a misnomer because, as far as being homeless goes, she's not all that crazy. On top of this, I'm pretty sure that Mary is not her real name, but that's what the other guys down there call her. She doesn't know my name either, as it has never really come up in conversation before. Instead, she calls me 'Buddy.' Whatever, that's cool.
The business relationship that Crazy Mary and I have hammered out is not the traditional homeless person exchange. For example, one day I forgot my wallet at home, leaving me without any money to purchase lunch. Crazy Mary made me take five dollars from her. I will often give her five of six dollars on a Monday, only to have ten dollars thrust upon me the following Friday. While the money is still flowing in her direction (by quite a margin), it is interesting to receive a crumpled bill from an urban outsdoorman once in a while.
Today, she did the strangest thing of all. Crazy Mary gave me a card for my wedding anniversary.
I ran into her when I stepped out for a cigarette at noontime. After some small talk, she asked me how my anniversary had been. Then she pulls this pink envelope out of her bag a said, with ever increasing volume, "I got this for you two for your anniversary. I tried to write in it, but the pen ran out. Open it when you get home. You'll freak out."
The last thing that I want in life in an envelope from a homeless person that I will "freak out" about when I get home and open it. I put it on my desk and examined the envelope for a minute, trying to determine the freak out factor. Did she stuff if with a little sumphin sumphin? In some lack of logic, did she put money in it? I decided there was no way I was bringing this back to my house without some kind of investigation, and opened the envelope, handling it carefully.
It's a store bought anniversary card. She actually went into a store with whatever money she dug up on the street to buy me an anniversary card. Inside is typeset the usual mushy sentiments, laid out in verse with pink ink. And then, in garish pen strokes, the classic words are written:
"I am not a person who believes in any of this shit, but Happy Anni anyway, love you guys."
I'm not sure why I'm supposed to freak out about this. Is it that she bought a card, or do I appear so white bread that the vulgarities of her message were enough to send me off. I'll have to ask her on Friday, when she will certainly try and give me back my money.