There’s a black man sitting at his desk in the small insurance office on the corner of my parent’s street. I’ve only ever seen him through a window, but he’s been there for almost as long as I can remember.
I’ve walked by the window countless times, sometimes I catch his eye and he sends a polite smile my way. Sometimes I wonder if he knows who I am or if I’m just one of many faces who pass by.
I don’t know his name but I’m pretty sure he’s kind. I imagine he’s got one of those laughs that fills a room. You know, the kind of deep belly laugh that causes your soul to overflow with joy, and you can’t help but laugh too.
Today I saw him through the window walking by. The reversal threw me for a moment. I recognized him but without seeing him sitting at his desk I thought he was someone I actually knew. I almost called out. But I didn’t. He didn’t see me, even if he had, would he recognize me? He was carrying a to-go coffee cup and I found myself wondering if he’s a coffee or tea guy. Coffee I bet.
His black curly hair is turning grey around the temples, but his eyes are still full of warmth. I like to imagine he’s part of a loving family. Perhaps he’s married with kids, maybe he’s a grandfather now. I bet he’d be a good one.
Connections are weird. I feel a connection to this man I’ve never met. He probably isn’t aware that he’s watched me grow up through his office window.
Every day I passed him on my way to the bus stop in high school. One time, in my twenties, I walked by on my way to get a tattoo from a shop around the corner. We made eye contact and he waved his polite acknowledgment, while I repressed the urge to go in and show him the symbol I got behind my ear.
Throughout the years while I’ve gone off and lived my wandering life, he’s been there, sitting at his desk. Ready with a smile which somehow, provides me comfort.
The world is changing and so am I, but the man on the corner appears almost the same. His sturdy build seemed perfect for hugging fifteen years ago and it’s the same today. Though I’ve never tested the theory.
Rationally, I know we’re strangers. Realistically, I don’t know anything about him — not even his name. At the same time, I feel like we’ve been friends forever.
This secret fake relationship isn’t something I’ve ever shared. I guess I thought it might seem odd or stalkerish. So until now, I’ve remained mute. I agree it’s strange to feel connected to someone you’ve never technically met, but maybe energy doesn’t lie.
They say you never know whose life you impact and it’s true. This man whose name I do not know has lifted my spirits more times than I can count. All with his warm smile as I walk by his window.
I can only hope that he’s doing well. Not for the first time, I wonder if I should introduce myself and tell him how much he’s helped me over the years without knowing it. Or would that be too weird?
If there’s one thing my strange connection with the man has shown me it’s that the old saying is true. You never know whose life you impact, and a little kindness goes a long way.
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