I had to maneuver around a small conference to get to the cash machines. Two homeless men were joking with a young guy, who looked like he felt a little bit cornered. One of the men made a snappy comment and the kid fumbled for a second but found an adequate response. They shook hands, and as they were parting ways, my peripheral vision caught something dropping to the ground. There was a loud clean POP and a comparatively small, “Oh man. I wish that hadn’t happened.” When I looked over, the homeless guys were standing over a white puddle spreading from a shattered bottled. The kid shrugged toward them and moved on. The homeless guys watched the white foam clear away, leaving a stagnant urine-colored pool of liquor spread around a plastic bag filled with glass shards. A cloud of alcohol wreak hit me. The two of them stood over the accident and had a clear-headed discussion about it – a moment’s slip and the whole evening had drained away right in front of them. One man was slow to admit it, but he still had two dollars. His friend was relieved. They lingered over the scene for a moment longer, and then headed off to the convenience store. As an afterthought, the first man jogged back over to pick up the dripping plastic bag and tossed it in the trash.
The sound of the bottle shattering was more like a balloon popping than a window breaking. The sound of the bottle exploding – more like a balloon than a window – seemed to resonate through the rest of the night.