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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

12.13.2006

A Little Holiday Encounter

I was rushing into my dry cleaners with a hamper full of clothing when a large black man mumbled at me.

"Excuse me?"

"I'm hungry."

"You're hungry?"

"Could you give me something?"

"Hang on."

I went inside, and the proprietor warned me not to give him any money. "It'll just go to the bottle," she said.

I had to hit the comic book store across the street, so I put my clothes in the car and headed over.

I'm standing in the store pulling my favorite books from the rack. He comes in. "You like these books?" he mumbles.

"Excuse me?"

"You like these books?"

"Yeah."

I go about my business.

One of the girls asks him if he needs anything. He points at me. "I'm with him."

I get the rest of my books and check out. I use a debit card---don't like to carry cash. I have two $1 in my wallet.

He's sitting on the window sill, waiting.

I nod to him. "Come on."

We head outside and to the deli next door. I open the door for him. He steps inside.

The counter person asks what we want. I nod to him.

He looks over the menu for awhile.

I make small talk with the counter person.

"How long you guys been open?"

"Oh, about 7 months."

"How's business?"

"Good."

He asks if they have hot dogs. They don't.

He looks at me. "There's this place way down the road that had them...."

"I'm sure this place will be just fine. They've got good food."

I turn to the counter person. "What's the most popular thing on the menu?"

She rattles off a few items. The cheeseburger catches his attention. He's about 6'2" and 250 lbs, so I imagine he's had some cheeseburgers in his day.

He doesn't like what comes on it so they haggle over that for awhile. Finally they agree on a cheeseburger, french fries, and a drink.

The counter person looks at me. "For here or to go?"

"For here."

I pay her with my debit card, leaving a nice tip.

I pat him on the back. "Merry Christmas."

My companion mumbles.

"Excuse me?"

"I need to get home. Can I have $2 to get home?"

The bus costs 80 cents if I remember correctly.

"No, I can't do that. Sorry."

"I need $2."

"Well, enjoy your lunch." I shake his hand and leave, thinking that it's funny how what we ask for, what we want, and what we need can get so confounded.

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