I stopped by the supermarket a little while ago, after spending the afternoon at my office. As I walked toward the entrance, an older fellow crouched near the door, and called, “Excuse me, sir?”
I knew what was coming. For someone as imposing as I should be, I seem to be a magnet for ancient mariners and folks looking for a handout. Apparently I project the aura of the soft touch.
This man looked significantly older than my 53 — gaunt, patches of gray in his hair, rheumy of eye. I had a little trouble understanding him at first — he was missing his upper incisors. I told him that I didn’t have any cash on me. But he didn’t stop talking. He showed me a ring with a US Army logo. “I’ll sell it to you,” he said.
I told him I couldn’t do that. He said, “People like to say ‘Thank you for your service.’ I just want a sandwich.”
“I can get you a sandwich,” I said. “I’ll be right back.” I went into the store, grabbed a frozen pizza, some mustard, and a ham-and-cheese sub from the deli counter. I paid for everything, and went back outside, where —
The guy was gone. I looked around the parking lot — no sign of him. I asked the guy gathering the carts if he had seen the guy who had been sitting there five minutes before. Nope. I checked the other entrance, and looked up the sidewalk at the other stores in the strip center. Nothing.
So that’s why I’m having a ham-and-cheese sub for dinner tonight. But wherever you are, Mister, I tried.
And thanks for your service.