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travel blog - waiting for tom

Home | USA | San Francisco

frippet: San Francisco, USA - 1999-07-01

waiting for tom

the guy next to me in the line for tom waits tickets was a vietnam vet, apparently a homeless vietnam vet - he was covered in grime, his teeth were brown and sparse, and he had a vague odour. when i first got in line i thought he was just some crazy guy hanging around, but it turned out he was legit. after we'd been there about two hours, a friend of his turned up to help out: his friend would have been about three feet tall, very loud, with a red bandanna tied around his head. he chatted away to everyone in the line, keeping us entertained, and he was smart enough to have brought his own seat.

as we were sitting there, various passersby stopped to ask why we were lining up - was someone signing autographs? were we desperate for giants tickets? one of these passersby was a classy-looking lady, late 50s, dressed in a business suit and a red turtleneck, pulling one of those wheely suitcases behind her. she asked, 'what are you waiting for?'. someone replied 'tom waits tickets'. 'who's he, never heard of him,' she snapped. the dwarf said (loudly, because she seemed a little hard of hearing), 'he's a musician, ma'am. a MUSICIAN.' 'there's no need to yell, little man,' she said, and stormed off. he muttered something under his breath about there being no need to overreact and, surprise surprise, she heard that and stormed back.

'what did you say?' she yelled.

'i was just telling you he's a musician,' he replied.

'listen to me, you funny-looking little mother-fucker,' she snarled, 'you might think you're a bad-ass, but i'll show you who's a fucking bad-ass!'

she pulled a fed-ex envelope out from under her jacket and waved it at us all. 'i'll show you who's a bad-ass!'. it was full of documents, and she tugged one out and shoved it in his face. it was covered in some sort of scrawl, with the word HOMELESS in big, capital, pencilled letters at the bottom.

'see this?' she yelled. 'see this? this is the instructions for the neutron bomb! i gave 'em to the red chinese! that's right - now you're scared, aren't you? i'll show you who's a bad-ass, you midget mother-fucker!'

she shoved the paper back in the envelope, turned on her heel and set off down the street again. we all burst out laughing. for a minute it looked like she was going to come back, but instead she yelled over her shoulder, 'don't mess with me! i could give them the fusion bomb as well!'.

even if i hadn't got tickets, that would have made the wait worthwhile.

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