It was really cold. Several of us stood on the corner, waiting outside a store for a bus. A huge woman in a mink coat and mink hat gave me an up-and-down look, and then put her nose in the air as though she had suddenly been assaulted by some bad smell. I was wearing a cloth coat, and my sweatpants showed. In response to this woman’s obvious disapproval of my garb, I stared back at her and wondered how many hundreds of minks had lost their lives just to caress this mammoth minx.

A man, possibly homeless, scraped his shopping cart up to the bus stop and stood near Ms. Minx. The man’s clothing and shoes were disheveled, and his filled-to-the-brim cart was missing the larger back wheels.

Ms. Minx looked at the man, pinched her lips together, took a deep breath and pushed her shoulders back. The man looked Ms. Minx up and down. What a contrast these two made. I felt myself smile with delight as the man showed no fear, respect or loathing for Ms. Minx. He fixed his eyes on her face.

Suddenly, Ms. Minx demanded of the man, “Where are you going with that broken-down cart? Who do you think wants to hear you scraping up and down the pavement?”

The man looked down at his cart as though he saw for the first time that it did not have all its wheels. He looked at Ms. Minx again but said nothing.

“You need to take some pride in yourself. Do you hear me?” Ms. Minx demanded. The man said nothing. He just continued to stare blankly at Ms. Minx.

“You stand right here until I come back. Don’t you move,” Ms. Minx commanded. She disappeared into the store. I thought to myself, “I would rather wait for another bus than miss seeing what’s going to happen when Ms. Minx returns.”

Ms. Minx appeared within a few minutes with a new shopping cart. “You take this cart and put all of that stuff in it. Throw that old cart away, so you can stop making all that unnecessary noise up and down the street. It’s just a piece of junk,” Ms. Minx ordered.

The man took the cart, staring back and forth at the new cart and his broken cart. With some hesitation, the man transferred his belongings to the new cart. He then folded up his old cart and used some of his possessions to tie it to the front of the new cart.

He looked at Ms. Minx and kind of smiled, but he never said a word. Ms. Minx did not say anything, either.

A bus arrived. Ms. Minx, the other passengers and I got on the bus.

The man walked down the street, grinning with his new cart and his old. Ms. Minx was now just Ms. Minks.

* Minx – an impudent, rude, brash or presumptuous woman.

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...