Dave Egar

Dave Egar was a street punk in Uptown Minneapolis. He already had a long and interesting history by the time I met him. I was only thirteen at the time, while he was about twenty-two. To me he was a sort of mythical figure. I know he was more faceted than I understood at the time, but my perception was limited and I couldn’t get into Williams Pub to spend a lot of time with him.

He was in charge of the squat we lived in on thirty-seventh and Garfield, and he was not terribly comfortable with that role, so he asserted his authority as little as possible. He did have his own room, and there was a bed in it, a luxury no one else had. But he was only in the squat when the bars were closed and he was tired.

He was beautiful. He had long hair when I met him and a short beard, his face was classically handsome. He always wore all black that winter, and typically had the tight jeans that punks always wore.

Everybody knew him. From the street kids to the crack dealers to the crazies hanging out on the corner that we called Pops or Grandma or whatever title seemed to fit. He knew everyone, and he spoke to all of us in the same manner. He never made the little kids feel little. I learned a lot by watching him interact with people.

When the police showed up during the Thanksgiving blizzard he stood in front of our door and tried to pass off our room as though no one were in it. Right up until the cops reached around him and shoved the door open. There must have been a dozen of us kids in there, all runaways, and none of us wanting to go home. He was smooth enough that the police wished us all a good night after asking if we felt safe. They let us stay.

One night around two in the morning he took the entire lot of us to Curly’s and bought us all a hot meal. Each of us had our own plate and we had cokes with it and none of us left much, even though shrunken stomachs had little room for a full meal. I remember the red light on the sign out front matched the red straws in the drinks, and they glowed even though the interior lighting was dim. He claimed he got the money off of a drunken yuppie. Not sure how true that was.. but we sure appreciated it. I doubt he kept any. He wasn’t like that.

But he did tell me one day while we were alone and keeping warm in the mall, after a long conversation, that I didn’t belong on the street and that I should go home. It wasn’t condescending and it wasn’t flippant. It was considered advice. He said I was too nice to be out there, it wasn’t safe for me.

I was arrested not long after. When I got myself in order and I managed to get back to Uptown a few months later he recognized me immediately and was a bit upset. He asked me if I was back and I told him I was visiting and he was relieved. He told me not to come back. He said “I can’t tell you what to do, it’s not my place, but don’t come back here to stay.” He was one of few adults who could get through to me. One of very few who knew me at all.

He hopped a train to New York, they told me. Aaron hung on my leg inside First Avenue and started to cry, years later. He told me Dave had died, someone had given him drugs and he didn’t make it. Dave never did drugs, he was a drinker, and the whole thing was suspicious. I was seventeen. It broke my heart. Every single street punk I was close to in my teens died from drugs. Some of them years later. But all of them are gone, before hitting thirty.

I tell my children about him. He has no equal. He is still missed.

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Unbelievable Acts of Kindness

My rear brakes were going out. I knew something major was wrong, but I failed to estimate the true cost of the repairs.
I got a call after I dropped the car at the mechanic’s. He told me it would cost me effectively two and a half weeks worth of pay.
I told him to go ahead. The rest of the car is fine, and I need it functioning. It’s not enough of an issue to get a new used car over.
He meant to have it fixed by the time I get off of work.
I got another call just before work let out for the day. He had been given the wrong part and my car was not fixed, could not be jury rigged, and he had no loaners. I asked.
So I scrambled for a ride. Thank you, closest friend!
I couldn’t sleep all night. Not from the cost, but because I felt so vulnerable. I have no family to rescue me, not enough to rent a car (not that there is a car rental place here), and I didn’t even know the number for the local taxi or tow businesses (time to add into my phone). My friend who gave me her car arrived so tired that she should not have been driving at all, which was another worry altogether. My work is ten miles from my children’s daycare and school, which are close to home. It seems like a million at the end of the day. I would never be able to walk it before daycare got out, unless I started when I arrived.
I woke up in a bad mood. So did the children. We did not have a pleasant morning. A mommy time out was had.
I went to work, then went to pick up my car. The mechanic told me to take it. I told him I needed to hand something to my ride and then I would settle up with him. I handed a key off to my ride and then the mechanic told me again to take my car and go. I began walking to his office to pay, wallet in hand. He told me ¨Look, it’s taken care of. I am not supposed to say by who, but it’s all paid up.¨
I was stunned, I protested. I thanked him, I asked him to thank the benefactor. I managed not to cry.
I went back to work. Those I suspected in the office denied it. Not that I should have been sleuthing, it was not very graceful, but that is how I am. No one can accuse me of grace.
I got my check an hour later.
My check was for too much. I had been out sick, and I was paid for full hours. I felt awful. I had made a mistake on my timecard, for certain. I pulled out my file to find the faulty timecard and bring it to my boss so I could be docked properly the next pay period.
On top of the total hours, which I had correctly put as 16, was written ¨35.75, authorized by __¨. My boss had paid me in full, instead, using the hours from the week before as a source.
I did not cry. I did go to my boss and express my thanks and ask him to thank whoever paid for my car, if he knew who it was. He laughed at me, in a happy way.
I don’t feel lucky about the money. When you have had enough and none, money does not seem to matter very much.
What makes me feel lucky is the fact that someone, or more than one someone, thinks well enough of me to want to do nice things for me.
No one does something nice for someone they think of in a negative way. Not an expensive nice thing, because it seems worthless to invest in someone you do not think well of. You don’t trust them to use the gift wisely, or even appreciate it.
People believe in me. Such a powerful thought.
It’s not pity, either. Because no one knows what happened to me. I don’t talk about it.
I told my therapist I don’t want to see myself through other people’s eyes. But maybe the view is not as bad as I thought. Maybe the negative voice in my head is a memory rather than a reality.
For everyone who told me that people in this culture/country are sick and twisted lost souls – get an education. I love this town.