Driving. To Exit 9.

man-face-mask-art

It’s Wednesday evening.
I’m on my commute home from work.
Traffic is flowing on I-95 North.
A school of fish gliding down a rapid current.

He drips into consciousness at Exit 5.
There are three words on a piece of tattered cardboard, written with a thick, black, felt pen.
The words are stacked.

Homeless.
Hungry.
Help.

My thoughts shift to a Netflix movie. I’m replaying scenes from 13 Conversations About One Thing as I’m chewing up highway. John Turturro: Life of predictability. Fullness of routine.

He stands at the same Exit. Exit 9. My Exit.
There’s a stop light at the end of the long exit ramp.
You can’t avoid him, unless you are at the back of the line in rush hour.
And then you pass him at 15 mph as you negotiate the corner.

White male. 35-40 years old. Clean shaven. Average weight and height. A coat a bit heavy and oversized for the season, but not unusually so. His eyes, those eyes, emit distress.

Addict? Alcohol? Prescription Drugs? Coke? Meth? 
Unemployed? Unemployable? Record?
Bad decisions? Bad luck?  
He doesn’t give much away.

I reach Exit 9. I’m near the back of the line. The light is Red.

He’s there.

Same scene. I’ve driven by this Man 10 times.

I’m fumbling with my briefcase in the back seat searching for my wallet.

The light turns green.

The traffic begins to move in front of me. I have one hand in the bag in the backseat and the other on the wheel as I move down the exit ramp.

He’s closing in. Same sign. Same jacket. Same gaunt look.

I can’t find my wallet. Damn it! Just get him next time. Let it go. He’ll be here tomorrow.

The gap between my car and the car in front has widened.

The line is growing behind me, with a late model Corvette hugging my bumper.

He’s now 10 yards away.

Five yards.

Still no wallet.

I stop in front of him. I grab my bag from the back seat and sling it into the front.

The Corvette now has two hands on his horn. Others join in. Traffic is backing up onto I-95.

I find my wallet.

I pause. Lower my window.

He approaches the car.

Our eyes connect momentarily, otherwise Silence.

I hand him the Bill.

He looks down at it, grabs it, turns his head and steps back away from the car.

I take one last glance at him, and I pull my car through the intersection.

The Corvette pulls up next to me at the next light.

I lower my window, signaling for him to do the same.

He does.

And I pass along my thoughts.

F-ck you A–hole.


Notes: Image: Distant Passion. Related Posts: Driving Series

 

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Comments

  1. love every word of it. Good on you!!

    Like

  2. Loved every word. Good on you!

    Like

  3. Well…let’s see, who is the better person??? The guy in the Corvette, or the homeless guy who is brave enough to withstand the pitying glances, the apathy, the rudeness, the shallowness of his fellow beings who choose to ignore a sign which says “Homeless, Hungry, Help.” No matter how he got there, how many of us stop to think about what it takes to hold up that sign?

    Like

  4. Peggy Farrell Schroeder says:

    Exactly what the Corvette driver deserved. Good for you, Dave!

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  5. We have one of these fellows near our local grocery store and I have a similar internal dialogue every time I pass him. I debate whether money is the right thing to give, the whole “teach a man to fish” parable runs through my head. But you did what was in your heart at the moment (on all fronts), so it was the right call. And that Corvette driver, well, he drives a ‘Vette–nuff said. ;-)

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    • WLS – I have some similar perceptions of people who drive ‘vettes. Karma – you did the right thing, the thing that separates us from those creatures without conscience or shared responsibility (If not me, who; if not now when?). That which makes our hearts beat. Good on you pal.

      Like

    • Yes Lori. That is exactly what was running through my head. Thank you. Thank you Mimi.

      Like

  6. i think that you taught one great lesson to three different people with this experience.. to the homeless man – there are those who care, and to the corvette driver – there are those who care, and to yourself – there are those who care.

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  7. Good for you, David. We don’t know why that man on the corner is there or why the man in the Corvette acted the way he did. We all have stories others are not privy to and maybe our job is to judge less and empathize more.

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  8. I wish I could “Like” this a million times. Last week I accused you of being predictable. And today you shock the s##t out of me. I WANT to be this brave, this willing to get out of my own way, this fierce about what I think is right action. You opened something in me, Obi Wan.

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    • Awwwww, predictable due to the management of the public profile. What you are seeing (Jekyl & Hyde) is closer to my reality. Thank you. Being Brave is not my issue. Containment of the peaks and valleys, certainly is.

      BTW, I was rumbling through my old posts and noticed that you, you Sandy, were one of my very first followers. Not sure how you found me, but I value your authenticity and your followership. Thank you.

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  9. Good for you David. I’d like to borrow from Rob Liano and say “Everyone has baggage, maybe we should help each other carry it.”

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  10. Good for you David…. Thank you for having a generous heart :)

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  11. you are beautiful. thank you for sharing, david.

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  12. I have decided to always give some if I have it. I have no idea how they are there. Even if they aren’t needy and just stealing God will deal with them. As long as I give out of the goodness of my heart is all that matters. I have to trust God that the other person needs it. Any one of us could end up there at any time no matter what some of us like the guy in the corvette thinks. My daughter would not have waited to get to the light she would have gotten out of the car and let the guy in the corvetter have it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Inspiring comment. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

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