Why Wouldn’t I?

Why Wouldn’t I?.

Advertisements

Why Wouldn’t I?

He comes in each day–sometimes 2 or 3 times, depending on the circumstances and the green in his pocket.  His clothes grow more rag-tag by the week and there is always a scruff of beard playing at his natural features.

Today he appears in a heavier coat, with a fur lined hood, heavy clod boots, and a new adornment….his glasses.

Most would overlook these particulars–would choose to forget how often he comes in to see us.  Most would rather not waste their time on the unclean clothes, the unshaven face, the eyes eclipsed by so much–life.  He compels me to look, to see, to hear, and to love.

I know him by name, but most would simply roll their eyes knowing the real reason he comes in is for the mutiple cans of large malt beer.  You know the kind, the big 24 oz can which ranks right up there with HAMMS?  On a good visit I will ring up 2-3 cans, realizing that by the end of my shift he will be back for refills of at least 3 more.  I know his beverage by sight, can predict if he will return and i always sigh.

I know his hands.  They shake, they convulse, they are roughened by the burns of many a lighter, scarred by the life he has led.  Often they cannot hold onto the change given back to him, so I cup my hand beneath his so as to catch the coins as they fall.  He laughs cautiously, waiting to see if I will berate him.  I make sure the change is tucked away before counting back the bills so he knows what is coming to him.  I keep my hand beneath his, ready to help if needed.

I know his need.  The bag.  I make certain that the cans are always in a white, plastic, bag with handles.  Some, he comments, don’t bother with a bag.  “Gets tough to carry all that in my pockets with no bag.”  Some place it in a paper bag, “Makes me wonder if they want it to rip on purpose.  Thems cans are cold, then the bag gets wet, then it rips.”  Makes one wonder, indeed.

Into the bag goes the malt, sometimes a pack or 2 of smokes.  My eyes always glance at the tips of his fingers, they are calloused and burned from many a match or lighter.  I often wonder, who is around him to help light his smoke when his hand shakes so?  Who helps crack open the can, and how often does he curse the bane of this existence, then feeling the relief as the cold suds reach the back of his throat.

Today, I have seen him 3 times, the count is at 9 24oz malts.  I sigh, I choke back my own judgment, I grit my teeth and smile.  I look him in the eyes as he speaks to me.

“You aint like some of the others.  Some of them make me stand a long time waiting to take my money, they tell me I am not enough of a paying customer.  Then they throw the bag at me, if I get one at all.  You aint that way.”  I smile.

“Why would I be that way?  That is not how I play.”

Why wouldn’t I?  You see, as I make sure he has his plastic bag secure in my hand, I pray that I do not see him in here again…at least for this type of purchase.  I am angry at the way he has expected to be treated, anticipating that people think him less of a person, believing he deserves to be a second class citizen.  I hear his voice when he tells me he is, “gonna go home to my lazy boy and wait to die.”  NOOOOOOOO.  No. no.

Why wouldn’t I care for him the way I hope others would care for me.  I think of him each night that I work.  Each day that it is sub-zero and I know he is ambling in for the 2nd or 3rd time.  I shake my head and then I remember what an example he is to me.

Example?

My clothes are not tattered, I do not smell like day old beer, and my hands do no shake, but my insides burn from scars unhealed.  What I may see as an obvious struggle is no better nor any worse than the struggle and voices I battle each day…the inner turmoils we all encounter.  I thank him for being an example that in this moment, his battle is only a bit more visible.  It could be only a moment from now when all my skeletons are exposed for the world to see, but for now they are hidden behind a perky smile, snarky comments, and a quick wit.  Today, they remain hidden…..

%d bloggers like this: