Brad and I meet, or try to meet, every other Saturday for our Bible study; one weekend the in-depth study, the next to share and compare. We see a lot of the same folks at the Starbucks we meet at and have been for over a year now.
There’s Joe and his gang of bikers, the bicycle kind. They want me to ride with them on their seventy-mile route… I’ve done that once. I’m not sure I’ll be taking him up on his offer anytime soon. Any ride close to seventy miles can be seen in the grimace on my face afterwards. When those guys are finished they look like they just rode across the street.
There’s the retired guy that looks like Art Carney’s brother who refuses to go anywhere without his mini shepherd, but not his leash. I’ve come to realize he’s a better master than I am… I almost treasure my time away from my dog Larry.
There’s the girl with long brown hair, I think her name is Laura, who burps with her mouth open… a lot. Of course, there are always new faces… and I keep an eye out for folks, cause each one of them is a story in the making.
I don’t stare – I swipe glances. The man sitting at the round two-person table next to us, behind Brad, looked like a blue-collar guy at first glance. Ball cap, distinguished grey whiskers and a red and white lined flannel shirt.
The man was carrying a McDonald’s plastic bag that was knotted at the two handles for easier carrying – that’s what raised my left detective eye like a red flag; there’s no McDonald’s close to the Starbucks Brad and I meet at.
The man slipped inside without catching my attention, but he wouldn’t on his way back. I heard him coming behind me – sounded like a limp or a shuffle. “Good mornin!” he greeted Brad with a warm voice and genuine nod.
“Mornin,” Brad replied.
I didn’t move my head but glanced toward the ground as he passed by me. He was sporting old leather slippers that at one time had that orangish kind of hue to them. His were mostly black and the fine texture an ancient memory.
He had on blue socks. The kind of sky blue socks that screamed he’d gotten them for free. I saw how the shuffling sound was made before I heard it again. The man lifted his right knee high, high enough to drag the sole of his slipper that was only attached to about even with the arch of his foot.
The man kicked the floppy sole out in front of him so that it landed on the concrete before his sky blue stocking foot could. The man eased himself back into a metal chair again… with water… the free kind in the plastic cup.
We’re all creatures of habits and all of us carry some good ones and some bad ones. I have the habit of doing whatever it takes to have food, shelter, and clothing for my family and myself. Although I have a hunch that it has more to do with the amazing grace of God than it does me.
The homeless man sat sideways, leaning against the metal railing, his ear toward us… timing in this life is never by chance.
If the blue socked homeless man becomes a regular, I’ll look forward to learning his story, each soul has one.
I’ll keep you posted. And don’t be too surprised if you see me in my black sport socks hoofin’ it across the Starbucks parking lot.