Have you met Stephanie?
Stephanie lives in my neighborhood. She is the subject of much discussion and many e-mails, some from the police; a distinctly marked woman you can confuse with no other; a woman who has knocked on doors at 2:00 a.m. to ask for money.
I hadn’t seen Stephanie for a while, but I saw her Monday.
“Excuse me? Excuse me?”
I look up from my weeding in the front garden. This is not the first time I’ve been interrupted by people asking for money while I’m weeding. I blame it on my alluring dress of sweat pants and Elvis-commemorative-stamp tee-shirt.
Drives the peoples wild.
“Could I talk to you for a moment, ma’am? Ma’am, are you a Christian woman?”
Ah. This is not the first time I’ve heard this approach.
“No,” I said. “I’m not.” I went back to my weeding.
“Ma’am, do you have some money?”
I stop weeding. “Yes, I do. Now are you going to ask me to give my money to you?”
“Yes, ma’am, if you could just see your way clear to giving me a couple dollars, I haven’t eaten in two days.”
I look up at her. She doesn’t know that I know where she lives, that I know her last name, that we frequent the same bars. In spite of her willingness to beg for money and drinks – Mike bought her two drinks at Mayslack’s just to shut her up about how hard it was for her to find a job now that her face was covered with tattoos – she is a slender, well-dressed married woman who lives in a nice house. She may have issues, but not eating isn’t one of them.
“No, I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t have any money. I’m working in my yard.”
“You could run inside,” she offers.
I stare at her.
“You could run inside,” she repeats. “I’ll watch your, uh, your – “
“Spade,” I said. “And I don’t want to run inside.”
She keeps talking. Surely I am a Christian woman? Surely I can see my way to giving her whatever "spare" money I had? Maybe eleven dollars?
Persistence is her strong suit.
Eventually my husband comes around the corner.
“Sir? Sir?” Stephanie launches into her speech. Poor Willie has no defenses against brazen women; and after hearing less than a couple lines of her spiel digs into his pockets and gives her two dollars.
And with that, Stephanie jumped on her bike and was gone before you could ask – and feel free to join in here! – “Ma’am? Are you a Christian woman?”
11 hours ago