I'd noticed an inanimate object on the path while I was out running around in the dark earlier. Later, when I went to be a crossing guard in the sunshine, I saw that it was a shopping cart. Aw, crap, I thought. I'm used to keeping the area somewhat tidy, but a shopping cart??
As I contemplated the cart and what to do with it, I noticed a few other things. Some drink cups. Then, some sleeping bags. Then, hair from someone's head sticking out of one of the bags. Still attached to the head.
They'd set up their camp in a little knook area behind the Smoking/Make-out bench (so christened from the majority of teen activity that goes on there). This is a photo from early fall. See it? The trees are now mostly bare branches, but the branches and the Smoking/Make-out bench provide a bit of shelter.
I don't have a problem with homeless campers, but I was a bit concerned with them being right on the pathway to school. It seemed strange for them to decide to bed down at a busy intersection of a 5-lane boulevard and pedestrian path.
A few kids noticed the shopping cart. I told them there was someone sleeping back there, just keep walking or better, take the sidewalk. Later, when I took China for her beauty walk early in the afternoon, they were still there, but vertical and active. This made me hopeful that they would be gone by the time school got out.
About an hour before the afternoon bell, I checked the S/Mo bench. They'd left. No trace of them, which was nice because the S/Mo bench and surrounding "woods" is a popular area for the kids to let off some stuck-all-day-in-school steam. If they'd still been there just before the bell, I wondered if I should ask school security for advice. I really didn't want to call the fuzz.
They'd left no trace, that is, except for the flipping shopping cart. Once again, I wondered what to do with the thing. So, I'd just like to say...
Dear Val's mom and dad,
A shopping cart was left at the crosswalk today. Val saw it and became noticeably intriuged. I know he thought about bringing it home with him. I told him it would be perfectly all right if he did. In fact, I may have highly encouraged it. He's a good kid, that Val.
Apologetically lovingly in street-walking,