“Shit. This fucking guy wants to talk to me?” I thought.
(Yes. There’s lots of cursing in my internal dialogue.)
I just wanted to sit there, upload pics to Instagram like a motherfucker (that one was just thrown in there for my own fun), suck on my venti iced coffee, and then, in between it all, dwell on the perfect flowers which encircled the man-made geyser/water-fountain at this outdoor mall I found myself at.
But this chubby old guy with a Brooklyn accent had to chime in with, “The sound of the fountain. It’s really nice.”
“Shit, and he’s autistic,” I joked to myself.
Be nice Gabe. Be nice.
I put my phone down. Established eye contact. Remembered I was a person. Remembered we’re all connected. Remembered I was here to serve a purpose. Kindness. Healing. Make people laugh. Etc. Etc.
We talked about the fountain. The flowers. The breeze. The adorable Asian babies in strollers.
“Do you follow the Mets,” he asked next.
“Nope, not at all. I’m sorry.”
I apologized because he seemed a little disappointed.
But it didn’t stop him.
He went on to describe a whole inning to me. Pitch by goddamn pitch.
Losing patience, the back of my brain said, “Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.”
But I hung in there. Without even looking at my phone, which I was dying to do.
He was a sweet man and deserved some sweetness.
And then, out of nowhere, as if a switch was flicked in the universe, he said, “I’m a healer, you know. I do healings through Jesus.”
Matter of factly, but totally channelled, he spoke clearly about God and faith and love.
Not religiously, but beautifully. Divinely.
How bizarre. I wasn’t there for him, he was there for me.
He was a messenger.
But the message came with a test.
Would I be kind to a stranger? And would I continue to show kindness when I really wanted to cut and run?
Because he finally said, “It ain’t never going to be perfect down here, you know. And I’m not afraid of dyin’. You’re going to see your mother and father and aunts and uncles again. Don’t you worry about it.”
He stood up and finished with, “Alright Gabe, it was nice talking to you. Time for me to stroll around and get my exercise.”
I gave him the respect of not watching as he walked away. Because I had a pretty good feeling he was just going to vanish.