Skinny and rugged after years of street life, Addie Apassfer wears a red hat and a platinum-blonde wig and spends mornings and evenings in front of the post office on Midway Drive. Her pushcart holds lotion to keep her skin from cracking, extra clothing against the weather and an umbrella for the occasional storm, not to mention a ready supply of malt liquor.
'You'll never find me sober no more,' she said.
Addie remembers faces well, and she seems to have a coherent idea of where she is and what she's doing, but her speech is punctuated with nonsense words and her lucidity ebbs and flows. Her grip on her past is slippery, and sometimes she starts rambling on in strange directions.
She seems to have led a peripatetic life. She wasn't born in San Diego, but she went to school here. At various times she has lived in Chicago, Buffalo and San Francisco. She recalls working as a nurse here in San Diego. She says she ended up on the street because she got sick and had to take medicine. Possibly this means she developed an addiction to pills, which she now makes every effort to acquire from local emergency rooms and clinics. The nurses have learned to check the authenticity of her symptoms, and it's become harder for her to get the pills.
Her body is bent after years of difficult living.
'I got beat quite a few times, but I was never insexuated. I resisted that,' she said.
These days, she seems to have settled into a routine. She spends nights picking up litter in the post-office parking lot. During the day she goes downtown to sleep and maybe get fed, then it's back up to the parking lot. But post-office workers and regulars know Addie. They greet her, and she replies equally and to all with a cheery, 'Joy to you!' and a smile.