The place where I sometimes eat lunch and sometimes get some writing done in the process, I’ve written about before. It’s a place not too far from my house. It’s a clean orange brick strip mall, not too big, not too small.
There’s a FedEx right next door to my eatery, where I get copies made and send some packages across the state and sometimes across the country, to arrive at someone’s business or home in less than a day.
Across the parking lot from my favorite express lunch restaurant is a Starbucks. I have a fair amount of meetings there as well, some personal and some business. Three doors down from my lunch spot was a pizza place where my family would sometimes get Sunday dinner. It closed down a few months ago…
What I haven’t written about in the past in describing my lunch hide-a-way is the man who about 25 percent of the time sits between my hide-a-way and FedEx. He usually avoids making eye contact with me, but not this day.
I had just sent off a FedEx package and was “Starvin’-Like-Marvin.” My usual approach to one destination or the other was from the parking lot in a direct line to the front door. This day my approach would be different. After dropping the package, my path to my next door lunch would take me within a couple of feet of Alfred.
I’ve watched Alfred for some time. I’ve known for quite some time that I would write about him, I just needed to know something about him before I did. “Can you help me out with some money”? He asked as I approached. I could barely understand him.
“I don’t have any change right now,” I answered in a true statement, looking for his reaction. “OK,” he mumbled. “I’ll catch you on the way out.” I quickly added. “OK,” – “Sure,” he replied in a pleasant tone with the sound of marbles in his mouth and gravel in his throat, as he didn’t attempt to hide a mouth with almost no visible teeth.
“What’s that number on the side of your bucket mean”? I asked as I eyed the faded number 31 on the side of the bucket. “Oh, I don’t know”? – “I’ve had this bucket so long I don’t remember,” he mused.
“What’s your name,” I asked. “Alfred,” was his mumbled reply. “I’m Floyd”! – “Pleased to meet you,” I added as I shook his hand. After a few more exchanged statements, and off I went. I know from past experience a person asking passer-by’s for money won’t leave in fear of losing potential income or their spot.
Alfred looked surprised as I approached him after lunch. “Here you go,” I said. He graciously accepted it and added with surprising emotion, “God bless you for this”! Alfred doesn’t know that under the circumstances, I’m not expecting anything from God. If I were I wouldn’t be sharing the story now, I was hoping for understanding and more wisdom.
I talked with Alfred for a few minutes. He showed me his small right leg and the scars from surgery. I listened and made mental notes as he talked. For all Al lacked, his cane was one of the nicest I’ve ever seen, not that I’m a cane expert.
I asked Alfred where he lived. The area of the city he told me he lived in is by the library downtown. I know that area. I’ve been down there on a few occasions with my family handing out supplies to the homeless. That neighborhood is homeless central in this city.
“God bless you my friend”! Alfred mumbled through the two teeth he had left in his head as I walked away.
Homeless people are nothing new… Jesus Christ told us they would be a constant in this world. So what’s the connection? After all, we’re not so different, all of us. Alfred could represent the poor in spirit. It would do my heart good to see him comforted.
Maybe the connection is; we’re all connected? Similar to the social media that I struggle to grasp that this post is using to connect all of us right now?
You, the reader, through this post now know of Alfred and are somehow connected with him through you and I and this form of communication and connection?
Drop me a line…
I’ll tell Alfred you said hi…