I’m walking down the lane to the shopping center yesterday. The sun is setting after a gloriously warm, but mostly cloudy day. Long shadows from the low hanging winter sun lie upon the street in front of me cast by the great oak trees lining the side of the road. I am lost in my thoughts as I trudge forward mulling over in my mind these previous weeks of my life.
In my travels through life, I have found that some of the poorest people are the most giving. I walked home with a great feeling of empathy for her and a warm feeling in my heart.
The sun grows ever lower and the temperature soon drops. I place my hands in my pockets to warm them and button my coat tightly to keep out the cool late evening air.
I arrive at the shopping center as I pass the dumpsters where Dan spends his mornings looking for those morsels of forsaken food that only he and a few rivals hold dear. I think of the alternative lives of these people that have so touched me deeply over the years from our mutual acquaintance. I admire them for their willingness to live beyond the means and confines of conventional society. Often looked down upon my most, I hold them in high esteem.
As I pass the hair salon around the corner, I stop for a moment and look in. It looks so warm and inviting as women sit in chairs being primped and pampered by their hairdressers. I marvel at what women have to do to look presentable and beautiful; pressured by society and peers to look a certain way. Just like most things in life, today’s popular hairstyle will be next year’s passé relic. Fashion is such a fickle beast.
My eyes light up when I see Rosa sitting upon her usual bench smoking a cigarette. Upon her ears are adorned the headphones from her CD player and she is mouthing the lyrics without actually singing the words.
“Hey stranger,” I say as I sit down next to her.
My sudden appearance startles her.
“Dammit,” She says removing her headphones as she laughs. “You scared the shit out of me.”
“What have you been doing?”
“I went on a job search today.”
“I might have a job down at McDonald's,” She says. “But without a car, I don’t know how in the hell I am going to get to work. It is a three mile walk to get there every day.”
“Things have a way of working out when you least expect them,” I reply.
“I missed you yesterday,” She says. “I was hoping to get to see you. I have something to give to you.”
“What is it?” I asked intrigued.
Rosa reached into her backpack to pull out a small paper sack and handed it to me.
“Go on and look inside,” She said as she smiled excitedly with anticipation.
I opened the bag to find two packs of my most favorite cigarettes, British Dunhill’s.
“Where in the hell did you find these?” I ask. “I thought you could only order them online in the states.”
“That little convenience store ran by the Indians had a few packs in stock and I snapped them up for you,” She said. “I had heard you mention the other day that they were your favorites.”
“How much did these cost?”
“Five dollars a pack,” Rosa replied.
I started to reach for my wallet to pay her back.
“Don’t,” She said. “It is a gift from me to you. You are my friend.”
“I am honored to be your friend,” I reply.
“You might have to give me a ride to work some days when it is raining or too cold though,” She says.
“I will give you a ride any day.”
I said goodbye and left Rosa to put her headphones back on and to continue what she was doing. I am beginning to think Rosa might have a slight crush on me. It warmed my heart that Rosa would think of me in such a way when she has so little money to spare. I have received a lot of gifts in my life, but that gift of those Dunhill’s probably was the most thoughtful of them all. In my travels through life, I have found that some of the poorest people are the most giving. I walked home with a great feeling of empathy for her and a warm feeling in my heart.