Thursday, September 8, 2016

Flotsam From The Flood

According to Wikipedia flotsam is floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo. Jetsam is part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is purposefully cast overboard or jettisoned to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore. Lagan is cargo that is lying on the bottom of the ocean, sometimes marked by a buoy, which can be reclaimed. Derelict is cargo that is also on the bottom of the ocean, but which no one has any hope of reclaiming.

Back in 2012 Hurricane Sandy's tidal surge flooded the lowlands of New York and New Jersey. The coastal devastation has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and this week Fort Greene has seen an influx of bums, derelicts, and madmen who had previously populated the SRO hotels of Rockaway Park. The 'others' i.e. the white newcomers to the neighborhood ignore the new residents, however old-timers have been quick to comment on the meandering of the misfortunates.

"They have nothing." Ralph from Ralph Meats has been giving them free coffee. He has a big heart.

"They lost everything." I noticed a Hassidic slouch and a dangled-mouthed war veteran ambling to the subway. My wallet was light, but not that light and I called to them.

They looked guilty to be alive.

"I have something for you." I waved for them to come closer and they edged up the sidewalk like stray dogs in fear of the dogcatcher. I thought about having them split a dollar, but that would have been too cheap for words, so I gave them both a dollar.

"Thanks, mister."

"Good luck."

They needed more than luck as does everyone along the storm-ravaged coast.

We are all flotsam in this life.

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