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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Experience · #2274197
One can be humbled out in the most unexpected places...
Nothing better to do, this being Day 27 of my exile from employment and financial responsibility, I’m sitting on an uncomfortable wood-slatted mall bench. I’ve decided to perch here for a few hours and get started on my version of the Great American novel- creative writing being my latest excuse for not engaging in the dreaded job search.

But this place is distracting, and I soon find myself killing time by pondering upon my carbonated soda intake. It had increased over the last few weeks, possibly in an effort to get me back to where I was when I walked off my previous job; two 20 fl/oz servings per day. Maybe that Prozac I’ve been on for the last few months contributes to the lack of concern about my health.

A middle-aged fellow enters the double doors, dressed in torn pants and a more than loose-fitting tee-shirt. His cane the only thing between him and the floor, he inches along- ever so slowly. First his right foot slides forward. Then he pulls his left foot up- annddd--- yes, ahead, heel lifting up high as the shoe’s toe fights back, getting momentarily drug under. Then the whole sole comes down at once, SPLAT on the floor.

One cycle takes ten seconds- then he starts again, all the while looking forward, his face earnest, head cocked at an angle as he watches the scenery move by at a snail’s pace. Is he infinitely patient or merely resigned to his fate? And what does one think about while moving along with such conspicuous slowness?

Desiring some human interaction after my sloth marathon on the bench, I try and eventually succeed in making eye contact, then approach him and we shake hands, exchanging greetings.

His name is--- he has trouble talking but with great effort makes himself understood—“Larry.”

Struggling as hard to speak as he does walking, he says he suffered a head injury forty-seven years ago, pointing to a caved-in area on his right temple. The skin has grown over it, but the map of scar tissue hints at just how bad the accident really was. Forty-seven years he’s been dragging himself around this city. Almost as long as I’ve been alive.

He stays busy watching TV and reading.

“And what did you do before the uhm-?”

“I was an office manager at Albina Fuel Company before “retiring.”

I try to keep the conversation afloat, maybe in an effort to show Larry how tolerant I am of the handicapped. I decide to tell him why I quit my job.

“I didn’t feel appreciated at work”- but the words die out as soon as they’re uttered.

“Good jobs are hard to come by,” says Larry, and my face flames on with shame.

He shakes my hand and says goodbye
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