My car has some problems. It's about 14 years old, which isn't all that bad, but it has been through a few of its own tribulations. Let's just say, it has been roughed up a couple of times, but always managed to come out on the far end, still purring. Lately, though, it seems that the blows may have had a cumulative effect on the poor vehicle's brain. Which his to say, the central computer is "acting up" a bit these days. But it still runs. I take it in stride. There are hassles, to be sure, not the least of which is that it took me months of jumping through hoops to get smog certification because the machines don't actually measure emissions anymore -- they just grab a code from the central computer. (You may see the problem there.)
But like I said, I take it in stride. The car still gets me where I need to go, and eventually I hope to get that computer replaced. It isn't the top item on my list of expenditures yet, but I'm sure it will get there at some point. Hopefully, on my preferred terms and not dictated by the car, but we'll see. Still, I have a car. It runs. That's something.
This afternoon, I successfully drove it to the hospital where my oncologist currently has his office. We had a nice meeting. it was fairly brief because I didn't have anything major to report, no significant changes of any sort, and my lab work came back looking pretty decent. So that was great. Grabbed a cup of free coffee in the lobby and enjoyed it on the drive back to my house.
Then I found myself at a stop light, waiting next to a fellow who was sitting cross-legged on the median with a paper cup in his hand. He wasn't looking up at me and didn't have a sign or anything, so it took me a moment to assess whether he was just chilling out or if he was looking for money. The cup appeared empty and, frankly, he wasn't dressed for a casual stroll down the avenue, 5th Avenue. So I grabbed a buck and rolled down the window. He looked up at me, his eyes brightening a bit, but struggling to break out of whatever zone he had slipped into.
Immediately, I noticed that he was missing about half of his teeth. For a young-ish guy, one I would have pegged in his early 30s, that is somewhat jarring. Clearly, he has had a rough time of it with life. I felt bad that I only had a dollar in my hand. He smiled broadly and struggled to get some words out. But it wasn't because he was mentally disabled or anything like that, or at least I don't think so; it seemed more like he was trying to remember how to have a conversation and felt strongly that it would be an appropriate thing to do.
The first words to come through his broad smile were gracious, but fumbled. Then, as we made eye contact and I replied, he gained some confidence and tried to build some momentum. We wished each other a good day. He made some observations about the weather. It was a particularly gloomy afternoon, for example, and this thrust a topic before us upon which he was ready to expound.
It wasn't much. There was no time for a river of words to flow between us. The light turned and there was a long line of cars behind me. I felt bad about driving away. We were just about to move into the territory of actually chatting, as inconsequential as the topic might have been. So no river of words. Not even a stream, really, More like a trickle. A little drip, drip, drip that had begun, the promise of a flow in an actual conversation, and then it was cut off.
But maybe it was enough to do some good. There was a short but honest connection there. For a moment, he wasn't just a body on the median, waiting. For a moment, he was a human in dialogue with another human. It may have only been a trickle that I had to offer, or that he could be able to receive, but sometimes a trickle might be all it takes.
Now, watch the video.