He is there, sitting in an awkward position on the sidewalk, a small piece of plastic spread out on the uneven block surface beneath him, probably the same piece of plastic he used to sleep under last night. The same night that I awoke early in the morning to the sound of thunderous rains crashing down on the roof over my head.
I slow my pace to look at him, I know its rude to stare, but I do it anyway, he is miserable. His face shows the pain of the life he endures, his knees calloused and knobby from years of being used as feet, on the end of his arms are mangled stubs where hands should be. I stop and stand for a moment, the sight is not uncommon around here, this time though its getting to me, I cannot help but put myself into his shoes, to imagine what his life must be like.
I move to the side, allowing the droves of traffic on the sidewalk to pass and slip my fingers into my hand and pull a bill from my pocket, offering it to him, hoping that this small gesture will brighten his day. He looks up from his place on the sidewalk and smiles, a bright smile. He will eat today.
Just then, as I turn to walk away, not four feet behind where he sits a car pulls into the driveway, its a brand new Mercedes. And although I am not a specialist on cars or anything I known that this is no ordinary Mercedes, this is an expensive Mercedes, probably and eighty-thousand dollar hunk of metal. The license plates bear the tell tale encircled number four, letting me know that this car belongs to a local businessperson.
I stop again, taking in the irony before me, wondering how it is that these two men can live in such proximity without one helping the other. I wonder how it can be that one has so much, and the other so little.
An anger wells inside me, I am frustrated at the man in the fancy car, I peer in the now open gate into the sprawling compound that he calls home, green grass, fountains, another fancy car…. How?
I turn to walk away, still angry. I quicken my pace as I join the flow of humanity that fills the sidewalk, we all head off towards our separate lives, each of us with a different set of tasks, different desires.
I walk, pondering what I just saw and I realize something that I hope I never forget; This guy, the one on the sidewalk, the one who slept in the rain last night, the one who has nubs for fingers, he is my neighbor too.