Monday, January 25, 2010

A stranger.

His name is Ed Jordan. He sits every day at starbucks, a man alone. It's six in the morning when I greet him with my usual friendly 'Morning Sir.' Today he decides to respond, though that response is not what I would expect.

"Afternoon, wouldn't you say?" And for the first time in all these weeks I see his eyes. He looks at me with rummy blue eyes which are only colorful slashes in his tired looking eyelids. He tells me to always look towards the future, so I should say 'good afternoon'. I tell him that I have no way of knowing if I will make it to afternoon, and so instead choose to enjoy the morning which I currently do have. He smiles at this and begins to talk. He intersperses his speech with 'see?' and 'You understand?' as if to make sure that I am listening.

I can tell he just wants to talk to somebody other than himself, and so I sit and listen as he tells me the meandering story of his life.

He was born in Boston and lived there with his mother and father. his mother minded the children, 'as is proper' he is sure to add. His father 'knew all things leather.' He was a shoe store managers who worked with all the jews. He tried to hire Ed on at his stores, but Ed had no desire to sell shoes. His father told him to invest in AT&T, which he eventually did. His father stressed the importance of honesty, diligence, and respect.

After leaving Boston Ed joined the navy. He was stationed in Okinawa. His current girlfriend's dad was an Austrian scientist who assisted in the creation of the atomic bomb in Nevada. "The bomb that saved my life." He says, "If the Japs wouldn't have surrendered we would have had to attack from Okinawa. They figured the entire first wave of soldiers would have been killed. I was supposed to be in that first wave."

He disembarks from his story of the navy in order to explain his view of labor unions, which he was a member of. An electrical engineer, he worked for AT&T testing components. Eventually they laid him off for not being able to perform his duties. He didn't think that was right of them, even though he admits to not being a good tester at the end. "It isn't my fault I got old, why shouldn't I get to keep my job?"

He shows me a plastic spoon which is shaped and colored to mimic the appearance of stainless steel. "You ever seen anything like that?" He asks. He promises to bring me one from the VA next he goes over there. He tells me a boss of his once told him that all sorts of things would be made out of plastic, "including cars." "How do you figure a man gets smart enough to predict something like that?"

He asks me mechanical questions about his mobile home, he's having trouble with fuel delivery. I give him what limited advice I can, but warn him to have it checked by a mechanic.

The conversation draws to a close as Kaite sits down next to me. "Thank you for liistening to me," he says as he walks away.


quilteddogs said...

This post made me very sad. But so good of you to stop and listen to him. You have earned a place in heaven for that good deed.

TomboCheck said...

QD - Sometimes you run into people who need to tell their story. Whenever I run into such a person I always try to make time to listen. Rarely is it the story that is important, mostly it's just the connection to another human that they so desire. A desire I understand very well. :)

Tiffany said...

Well done, Tom. Be in the moment.

Chickenbells said...

When you break it down connection to others, the rest just almost seems pointless doesn't it? It's so important sometimes to just sit and witness another person...we all need that so badly.

TomboCheck said...

Thanks Tiff!

Sadira - yep. The words themselves are fairly meaningless. Sometimes I think it's just the recognition of humanity in others and thereby within ourselves which we crave. This crazy modern world of ours seems to deprive us of those connections with regularity, and so when we find them we latch on.

So it seems to this ignorant white boy anyway. :)

Karoliina Urso said...

Good for you for "having time" for the man. It is the human touch. Truly. The human touch. As Andy Rooney mentioned, he'd rather get junkmail from a mailman rather than email from a friend. It is the human touch. Have a great day.

TomboCheck said...

Thanks Karoliina. The human touch is one of those things that each one of us has to give. :)