I’m driving home from running errands when I see him. Same guy. I last saw him – when? During the election, maybe? After one of the shootings, I think? Maybe it was Orlando. Perhaps it was one of the bigger school massacres. He just shows up, no warning. He stands with his backpack on and his earbuds in on the same corner, at the busy, loud, stinky, clogged intersection, and holds the sign.
If someone honks at him, he might shift slightly to face them, or he‘ll simply rotate the sign so it is more clearly aimed in their direction. They can see all of it full-on that way, anyone who gets his attention. He doesn’t wave. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t make eye contact or acknowledge anyone, and he doesn’t look happy. He looks grim. He’s fulfilling some need, or answering some call, and it’s serious business.
He’s not well, is what I first think. Who stands on a busy street corner with a sign that’s he’s not being paid $8 an hour to twirl, something screaming about discount furniture or local condos? Who would just show up on a weekday and hold up a sign and not ask for anything in return? He’s not even in a spot where people might to pull over and slip him a crumpled dollar. He’s just standing there. With his fucking sign.
What’s he getting out of this? Dude’s crazy. Love. That’ll fix everything. A sign extorting people to LOVE. Like it’s that easy. Like connecting could ever be that simple, that hopeful, that determined. That insistent.
And then I cry the rest of the drive home.