spring has come and with it the unpredictable weather changes that often leave me wondering what to wear when i leave the house. if i bring my jacket, the sun pours down its bright, warm rays and i’m sweating large beads of sweat down my face. if i don’t bring my jacket, the skies open up and the rain soaks me.
it doesn’t seem like a battle i’m soon to win.
yesterday was another one of those days. i had errands to do and the weather had decided it would not be cooperating with me. it would rain and then stop and then bluster some wind and mist into my face then stop again. i cursed the weather underneath my breath (cursing it out loud might look to others as if i was crazy) and told it to seek help for its schizophrenic behavior.
on my way into the bank i noticed an elderly man sitting outside the front doors holding a sign. his silver metal cane rested against the telephone pole as he sat on what looked like a walker. his sign had a plastic tupperware bowl taped to it for people to drop some change in. i read the sign as i reached for the door handle.
‘please help this man in need.’
i nodded his way and he did the same.
‘not the best day for panhandling, hey?’ i asked the man.
‘i’ve seen worst,’ he replied through a bright smile.
i entered the bank and got done what i needed to get done. as i left the building a couple were just passing by the elderly man and placed some change in his plastic bowl.
‘thank you so much for your kindness,’ he said to them as they hurried onto the cross walk.
i had more errands to run and with little time to get them all done as the work day was winding down. i could talk with this man for a bit, i told myself, but needed to be on my way soon.
‘how are you doing today?’ i asked him.
‘well,’ he replied, ‘i’ve met some very interesting and generous people today. it’s made this weather more bearable.’
i asked him about his cane and walker. he explained that he had been hit by a drunk driver some 30 years ago, which left him crippled and unable to work much. he told me about the newly graduated engineering students who had hit him head on while he was driving home one night and how he had learned to forgive them for their poor choice to get behind the wheel.
today, he lived in an old van that he plugged into a house to keep himself warm. he made an agreement with the homeowner to give him money for the electricity that he used. he spoke about how grateful he was for the relationship he has with this man and how kind he has been to him.
we talked about his travels across canada, his accident, the comforts and discomforts of living in a van, philosophical ideas and food.
‘are you hungry?’ i asked.
‘yes, but i need to make some more money before i can do that.’
‘how about i get us some chicken wraps?’ i offered.
‘why, that would be a fine idea!’
as i started to make my way across the cross walk, he yelled after me, ‘i still don’t know your name.’
i returned with a few wraps for him to nibble on and a stuck a small book i had been reading into the bag along with the food. he thanked me and was very gracious. i told him that i had more to thank him for than anything else.
he looked puzzled.
‘before i met you today,’ i said, ‘i was having a rather frustrating day. i was frustrated with the errands i had to run, the limited time i had to do them and the crummy weather i had to do them in. after talking with you, all that seemed to disappear. so, thank you.’
he removed the glove from his right hand and we shook hands.
thanks for the conversation, lauren. i won’t soon forget it.