A personal sabbatical from life sent the author into a stop-gap period during which, on the outer edges and among improbable lives, he got to know the people who make up this book -- not criminals, not lazy, not conforming but living by their ingenuity, becoming attached to their temporary security, and sometimes working to achieve a goal by means just short of vagrancy. It results in a panel of off-beat drifters -- and they are very busy, very expert in their efforts -- whose chosen experiences will rock those more fortunate. The man who fills his days here, there and everywhere on Manhattan and discovers different dodges for sleeping, bathing, eating -- and working: the one who comes for a binge and pursues his current interest to ends beyond logic: the girl who bilks hotels -- and men: the would-be opera star who lives from one empty apartment to another: the savior of drunks: the Negro who argues down soap box orators: the strong man whose vice is gambling now returned to three ex-wives: the finances of a woman who lives by parties: the daredevil ironworker whose window washing provided him with more than money: the ex-banker who utilized Madison Square for an unofficial office: -- these are human beings not characters in all their attributes of pride, kindness, warmth and basic goodness. No sociological thesis-thumping here, this introduces friends of long standing with understanding and appreciation. It is to gape.