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Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I sat down at the bus stop on Gympie Road, watching the on-coming peak hour traffic carefully to ensure my bus didn't pass. I'm slurping on a Creme Chocolade from Zaraffa's.

Suddenly an older woman with the detectable dry stench of nicotine appears from behind the wall of the bus shelter and sits down next to me. Between her yellow stained fingers is the cigarette I had sensed.

She looks at me for a moment.

Her: "Hello. Would you be able to give me two dollars for a bus fare?"

Me, following my natural instinct to people who can clearly afford cigarettes asking me for money, is no. I qualify it with "I spent the last of my money on this drink" and claiming (truthfully) that I use a GoCard.

She looks at me for a moment, then reveals to me an old, faded photograph of two young boys - must be aged 10 or so. She's been holding the picture the whole time. The photo looks like it's from the early to mid-eighties.

"These are my boys. This one is 28, and this one is 32."

"Oh, lovely" I say. I make a joke. "They look good for their ages."

She looks at me blankly for a moment.

"This one had his ball chopped off by an Indian."

A pause.

I say "... oh."

She says "Yes. The Indian thought he had cancer down there, but he didn't."

A pause. She takes a drag of her cigarette.

She says "Do you have 50 cents? I thought I had ten dollars on me, but I spent it on this chicken instead."

She holds up the chicken in a Coles bag.

After blinking several times, I gave her 50c, careful not to reveal the five dollar note in my wallet.

The woman got on the Scarborough bus and hopefully made it home to Deception Bay.

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