2004 · Streetwise

As I’m walking through one of the side alleys of Wabash Street, early morning sunrays are trying to reach me fighting through the mason brick and iron of the city. The bright light at the end of the alley reminds me of ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’. The kind of light people all over the world see in a flash when they have a near death experience. Now what if that light that they all saw wasn’t really the end of the tunnel but just an oncoming train? FLASH, I left the alley and I’m standing next to the Central Camera shop, my haven.

My eye is searching for a voice shouting something on the pavement on the other side of the street, STREET!!! WIISE

I had seen the guy selling the streetwise papers many times before but I had never actually seen him in the act of his routine. This time I could see the uncomfortable behaviour of people as they were crossing his path. Some of them walked to the other side of the street just to steer clear of confrontation or just to avoid having to say; “no thank you”. I was surprised at how prompt people were trying to sidestep from this potentially uncomfortable situation. If however, in this particular situation, the walking, scanning pedestrian has come too close to the shouting streetwise man and he feels no escape is possible anymore, he will prepare for impact and look away. A lot of people that live in the city easily read these situations and usually make a fast move. Isn’t that everything about being streetwise?

I walked over to the other side of the street and bought one of those streetwise magazines. The deep voice of the man that belonged to the other noises of the street disappeared for a brief moment. It felt like he was one of those ice guys driving around in an ice wagon with a speaker on top pulling over every ten minutes to sell ice. His voice is like that speaker, perfectly timed, bellowing his vending tune every five minutes, just like the accompanying tune of the ice truck. As I strolled away his voice rose up again and it gave me a good feeling, I was thinking about fresh ice cream in the summer. I promised myself I was going to buy myself a new streetwise every time I crossed his path.