Panhandled on Telegraph Avenue

I’m standing on the sidewalk outside I.B.s, waiting for my order of tater tots, when this woman approaches me. She’s probably around 40, small, slender, wearing a bright green t-shirt, and a brimmed hat covering her head, and she’s got this big, goofy smile on her face. She’s neatly dressed, but I can tell she’s going to panhandle me (after all the years on Telegraph Avenue you just get an intuitive sense about that). But first she chats with me for a bit.

“Are you waiting for your order?” she said.
“Yes I am,” I said.
“Are you ordering for just one person?”
“Yes I am. Just me.”
“Do you know what day it is?”
“I believe it’s Tuesday.”
All of her questions are like that. They’re a little off. They don’t quite make sense. So I’m wondering if she might be a little mentally challenged. A little off. And the goofy smile adds to that sort of half-wit affect. But finally, after several more non-sequitor questions, she gets to the point:
“I need a little help right now.”
“I’m kind of broke myself,” I said.
“Yes I can understand that. But I really need to buy some sun screen.”

Now that took me by surprise. We got a big rain storm coming in tomorrow, several storms back to back actually, and the sky is already starting to cloud up, and we might not see the sun again for the next 10 days. But what does she urgently need at this point? Sun screen.

I gave her a buck for the sheer originality of the line. The zaniness of it

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