Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sitting on Hold

I was in a coffee shop sitting on a bar stool facing the busy corner.  Breaking into my fresh bran and blueberry muffin, which was still warm to the touch and smelled like my Mom’s kitchen. My coffee was frothed and tasted yummy. I didn’t do this often, this sitting and looking at each passerby. Who really has time for this?

Directly across the street, sitting on the sidewalk corner I had seen him for the last week, sat a man. Hard to tell how old he might be, his unclean hair and toothless smile could hide a lot of stories.

One evening when I walked by, all I saw was his feet. Because when it was raining, he tucked himself into the building enclave to keep dry. You could tell that he had experience.

This sunny day as I broke my muffin into pieces and sipped at my tasty treat, I wondered what brought him to this spot in time. What choices had he made or not made that landed him to take possession of this corner on a sidewalk?

For a week, I had been visiting in this city and each day he had been in the same place. As I watched, he sat and smoked and gave his loud, cheerful greeting to each person who passed. Some answered back, many ignored. His ball cap which sat close to him, must have jingled each time a coin was tossed in. How many days or weeks or months had he been sitting here?

I watched as a well-dressed young man with a casually slung back pack, stopped in front of my sidewalk man. They chatted for a long while and then the older man held out his arm and offered his cigarette to the younger. A few times, the cigarette went back and forth. I am surprised. Hygienically, I’m not sure this is a good idea.

What did they talk about? What secrets did they share? 

The crumbs of my muffin are scattered on the table. My coffee is drained. I take one last glance across the street. 

Which one was the student, which one was the wise man?

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