I can’t help but think of a sweet elderly man I came across the other day. I was walking to a cafe near work to pick up my lunch, when I noticed a man at the corner of the intersection I was crossing over to. He was about 80 years old or so and mobile, yet involuntarily leaned over his walker. I got to the corner where he was waiting for our light to change. I smiled at him. As I stood next to him, and we waited for the white ‘walk’ light, I instinctually looked around to assess the positions of the cars that would be moving, simultaneously, as soon as our light, shared with the green traffic lights, told us to go.
The light changed and I immediately synced my pace with his. (I tend to do that when crossing the street with anyone who may not make it across the street in time, so that I can be the support they may need, when feeling the anxiety of getting across the street faster than physically possible for them.) So, I walked alongside him, and he turned to say to me, “Wanna race?” I smiled and quickly responded, matching his wit, “You’ll beat me!” He smiled and said, “That reminds me of The Tortoise and the Hair! Do you remember that story?” I said, “I certainly do! That’s a classic!” What he said next bothered me. It’s the reason I decided to share this story with you. As we continued to cross and were about halfway, he said to me, concentrating on his steps, “You know, I go to Trader Joe’s, and the people in the parking lot almost run me over! They don’t notice me!” It broke my heart. I said to him, again swiftly, “Well, I notice you!” He laughed, blushed, thanked me and we continued to make small talk about how good the dessert is at the cafe I was walking to. He’d had their pastries but never their sandwiches. He was going on to Starbucks, which was next door to said cafe. I offered to get the door for him and he politely said no thank you. I told him I hoped to see him again and he concurred.
We parted ways. I’ll never forget him.