On my way to an appointment downtown. Just parked the car as close as I could get, and was putting the coins in the meter. The snow was blustery and pointy, like tiny shards of ice attacking your face and settling in your collar. A fellow with his jacket open and his tee shirt half tucked into his dirty jeans stops to chat. I can barely hear him because the wind is blowing and my hood is up and he’s slurring his words pretty badly.
I don’t know what he says but the look on his face is hopeful, I’d say, so I smile and say, “It’s pretty blustery out here!”
He’s holding a coffee, fresh and still steaming. He says something more. I have no idea what – I can’t make out a single word, not even a syllable. Is he even speaking English? Maybe not. I say, “It won’t stay this cold! It’ll warm up soon!”
His face lights up and he nods and says something about it’s going to get nicer out, I think. I agree and say, “Maybe next week it’ll all start to thaw!”
He grins and comes closer. I can see the red rimming his eyes and the black rot deep in his teeth. He says, ” ——- weather!” He’s grinning. I have no idea what kind of weather he’s talking about. It’s darn cold and the ice is all conspiring to tear the skin off my face and he’s grinning like he’s all happy about something – I don’t know what. So I smile back and nod.
He says, virtually yelling over the wind, “You know what that is?” I’m starting to walk away because I have an appointment and I think I can’t see anymore and my glasses are fogging over and his breath is terrible. But I don’t know what he said, so I shake my head.
“Naked weather!! Naked weather is coming!” He is yelling. And he laughs and laughs. And I laugh and laugh because really? That’s funny. He’s so happy he’s made me laugh and he wishes me the best day and I wish the same for him and I go to my appointment.
On my way back to my car I meet a tall man with a warm jacket whose zipper appears to be broken. His jacket is flapping open, though he has the hood up and the fake fur is lining his face. I have my hood up too and am walking into the driving evil ice-snow. He is holding a sandwich wrapped in paper and a fresh coffee, still steaming.
He says something, I don’t know what because I can’t hear anything. I have my hood pulled tight around my face. He grins and holds up his sandwich and says something again and I don’t know. I just yell, “This is ridiculous weather!”
He grins and totters a little and loses his balance on the sidewalk, but catches himself without spilling his coffee. Both his hands are full and he’s grinning. He reeks of beer. He bellows back, “It’s cousins with Hercules! It is Ridiculees!!”
And he laughs and laughs. And I have to laugh too because really? That’s funny too! C’mon. That’s funny. Ridiculees!!
He moves on and I’m heading to my car. I have to pass the bus that’s serving soup and sandwiches and coffee to people on the street. There’s a man standing outside handing out sandwiches wrapped in paper, and coffee. He asks me if I want to step in out of the cold for a minute to warm up? I tell him, “No, I’m just parked right there. Thanks.”
“Can I offer you some encouragement from the bible?”
I grin. “No, thank you! I have lots of bible in me.”
“What? Are you born again and saved?”
I tell him I am most thoroughly indeed born again and saved. He puts his hand up to high-five me. I think he must be seventy. His face is all craggy. But he is grinning and smiling and the snow is blowing all around us and he is not the least bothered. He leans in and says, “I just do what I can for people, you see, and leave the rest up to Him.”
I tell him this is the wisest course of action. Kindness wins, always. He nods, and high-fives me again, and I carry on to my car.
I felt so warm this whole afternoon. So warm and cozy and I don’t even care about the blizzard.