St. Nicholas Day, dead homeless man, hungry homeless man, another ride offer from a strange man, police helicopter searching our block, restroom snobbery

Phoenix is back in full force. Monday night from about 10:00 to 11:00, a helicopter flew circles around a house a few doors down with its searchlight aimed at the ground. I searched the Web that night and the next day to find out if there was a fugitive in my neighborhood but couldn’t find anything.
Yesterday I did a Google search to find free things to do in Phoenix and found Encanto Park, about three miles from our house. With a late start, the days getting shorter, and two hours of round-trip walking time, we didn’t have much time there but will have to go back since the lagoon looks pretty; and Charlie liked the playset. The restroom building was closed, but this 222-acre park has two golf courses, one of which borders the sidewalk that we used; and we followed the big “Restrooms” sign on the outdoor hallway/breezeway of the clubhouse on the walk home. However, the signs on the restroom doors said that it is a “Class 3 Misdemeanor” to use the restrooms if you’re not a golfer. “Why?!” Charlie asked, almost panicked. I’m ashamed of myself for not letting him go or having him pee behind a tree at the park…or just telling him to pee on the golf course, but there were several golfers nearby. I’m pretty sure that my otherwise mild-mannered, sweet father would have been filled with righteous indignation in this situation if he were alive. He told me a couple stories years ago about a malfunctioning parking meter in one case and a tree-branch-hidden “No parking” sign in another. Both times Dad got parking tickets. There was something about Dad walking over to the police station and yelling, “Throw me in jail!” I’m laughing just typing that. Last evening while I was making dinner, I asked Laurel to find out the punishment for a class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona. She said it’s punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. She wondered aloud how I would explain my crime to my cellmates. But I guess that’ll be a question for another day when I try “Breakin’ the law! Breakin’ the law!”
On the walk home from the park we saw a man lying on the ground, partly covered in a blanket, in front of a bus shelter. Three men were tending to him – one standing, one crouched looking through his wallet, another crouched next to him and wearing blue, latex gloves – possibly a police officer. There was an unmarked, black SUV parked nearby. I think the man on the ground was dead, and I wasn’t really sure what the protocol is when walking by a dead man on the street. “Do you need my phone?” I stupidly asked the man in gloves. “We’re fine,” he said.
Today I walked to the grocery by myself. Charlie has developed a cough, and I thought I’d let him stay home and have Laurel stay with him. I hadn’t walked far when a homeless man pushing a grocery cart put his hands together in supplication and implored me, “Please will you give me some money for food?! I’m so hungry.” I told him that I was on my way to the grocery and would be back in an hour and 20 minutes. “If you’ll be in this area then, I’ll bring you some food,” I told him. He seemed genuinely happy to hear this and assured me he’d be waiting. He wasn’t there when I returned, so I gave the kids some of the quart and a half of apple cider I had bought for the man. (Next time, no heavy liquids!) We’ll eat the bananas and Nut Thins that I bought for him later this week. Sigh.
Shortly after talking to the homeless man, a disembodied male voice (The sun was in my eyes, and the truck was perpendicular to me.) coming from a red pickup asked me if I wanted a ride. This never happens when I have my posse with me. I don’t think the children are particularly fierce looking; I think it’s just logistics. It’s probably pretty difficult to kidnap and kill three people at a time instead of just one.
Today is St. Nicholas Day. It’s the first year I haven’t written rhyming (usually bad) clues for the kid to help them locate where in the house I’ve hidden their gifts. Wayne and I never did Santa Claus with the kids and didn’t even give them Christmas gifts. We – and then I in 2011 and 2012 – gave them two or three things each on St. Nicholas Day. Today I just lamely told the kids that I didn’t have anything for them, but we’ve been having fun (in some locations) and eating chocolate, so could that please be enough? Laurel suggested I hide but leave them a clue about where to find me, but I declined. I’m such a party pooper.
I hope my Colorado friends are staying warm during this extreme cold spell. It’s sunny and in the 50’s here.

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