Sunday, September 26, 2010
What happened? crossed my mind. When I exited, he said have a nice day. I stood close to him, unwrapping my new package of gum, and depositing the wrapper into a trash can. I looked him in the eye and asked would you like a piece of gum? A bright eyed oh, yeah followed. As I handed him the gum I noticed how dirty his hands were and the fine dark debris beneath his fingernails and I took care not to touch his hand while very consciously trying to play it cool and pretend I took no notice of the dirt or debris. As I walked away I felt sort of ill, completely disoriented. Why did I have to avoid his hand? This certainly wasn't the most pleasant part of my personality on display, sort of shallow really. The worst part is that I'm pretty sure I'd feel the same way if I found myself in front of that store tomorrow. Who was this guy? Why was he on the street with that can? When he accepted my offer of gum he answered identically in voice and manner to someone who could run in my socioeconomic circle, but then his hands. They seemed out of context. A block or so from the drugstore a slow moving older man wearing a straw Panama hat and a loose cardigan bent over toward the sidewalk. As I drew closer I noticed he was picking up a penny. I smiled and wished him luck, took two steps, and saw another penny. I picked up mine and he smiled and said good luck to you too. We both chuckled and I was on my way, thinking of my grandfather, and the good luck I'd always had when we'd walk together. Every time we went out for a stroll I'd find coins on the ground, often half dollar coins and silver dollars. It wasn't until Grandpa had passed away and I was much older that I realized he must have been tossing those coins on the ground when I wasn't looking. He liked making me happy. Or maybe I was just lucky.