A man paced on the street about 50 feet from our parked car. He became a stark contrast under a tall street lamp that perfectly illuminated the snow. It was freezing, and by the way he shoved his big hands into coat pockets, he must’ve been even colder than I imagined. He wore a bowl cut, something that hasn’t been popular for decades. Normally—before cancer—I would have imagined this man with a modern haircut and clothes. I might have thought about his potential—and what changes he could make. Not now though.
Instead, I deduced that the man, probably in his 40s, doesn’t like change. What are his hopes...dreams? I bet he’s never moved out of this small town, but even in that there is something to ponder. I always have to be moving and changing. I get bored so easily and can’t stay in the same place for too long. I’m adaptable to a fault. Yet, the thought of someone who can stay, that content—with the same haircut, living in the same small town for decades...well an equanimity like that is something I may never understand.
He pulled out a phone, but the call appeared to trouble him. And I know I shouldn’t have kept watching, but I literally couldn’t pull my eyes away. Who was this man? What were his troubles? Finances? Was he sick, like me? Or something worse: Did he worry over the sickness of a loved one? And I suddenly felt that his burden was so very great, but that few people knew. I prayed for him as he looked up to the moon and sort of bounced to keep warm after he hung up the phone.
It had been a few minutes when my daughter turned off her music. “Whatcha thinking?” she asked.
“Nothing really. We should go though. I bet my prescriptions are ready now.” But my eyes lingered on the man who had paced on the sidewalk not too far from our car. He pulled something else from his deep pocket, and placed it on his head—a headset—then trudged to a fast food restaurant where he must have worked.
Whatever he worried about on the previous call, I sure hope it’ll get resolved. And whatever he hopes for, everyone deserves a chance. It’s so strange trying to imagine life from a stranger’s point of view.... We all offer so much perspective. I sure hope customers will be nice to him. When they order food, they have no idea what must have been bothering him on that call...and the truth is I don’t know either. I don’t know anything except what I imagined....
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