Friday, June 7, 2013

The man on the corner

As I go out twice a week to grab a drink with friends, I find a man sleeping on the sidewalk. Sometimes the sound my wheelchair makes wakes him up, he turns around and says hello. I smile, so he doesn't feel alarmed. Perhaps seeing that it's me again, gives him some comfort?  Always on the same corner, every time I go to a bar. He sleeps in his glasses. Loud noises and police lights rarely disturb him. I see him week after week and never learned his name. When the 2 o'clocks strikes and bars close, he packs up his backpack and wanders off somewhere, presumably to start his day. People running off, screaming looking for their cars, rarely even notice that he's there, even as they walk right pass him. There's a lot of himeless people in this city, yet he feels different. He seems nonthreatening although he doesn't engage. Quiet and clean, just focused on his own life.

He never asks for money. Once a friend who was walking me home tried to offer him some. Here's a man who could use $5, she said, pulling out a bill. Imagine her surprise when he said: No thank you. And yet, there he is, sleeping in his clothes, finding shelter under a bit of a roof that sticks out. The Florida nights tend to be hot and humid. It rains here often, yet he's always there. As I go on about my weekly routines, he does the same about his I guess, and we cross paths for a second. Who is this man? What is his story, what drove him to that corner off University Avenue? Where does he go when it's time to take off? I guess I will never know.

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