It was during the week between Christmas and New Year that I found myself at a gas station, dropping some serious coin on fuel. As I was pumping, I leaned back against my car as usual to check out the scene. It was empty, in the middle the afternoon, except for one other person. As I watched the slovenly beast, I looked closer, and noticed that he was not the usual slovenly beast that I’ve been used to. He was middle-aged, maybe close to fifty years old, and very overweight. His shoes were worn badly on the outside edges from years of walking bow-legged, and his jeans and t-shirt were worn out and too tight.
He didn’t seem to notice much of anything going on outside of his personal area. His small pick-up truck was full of lawn mowing equipment, which was a rare sight these days as most of the landscapers around these parts are Latinos. The thing with this guy was that he was alone, and he looked very sad and downtrodden. I couldn’t help feeling bad for him in that moment.
The thing with me is that I have unfortunately been born with a soft heart. It has always been my weakness, but it doesn’t mean that I am weak. Even when I was a kid in school, I often found myself sticking up for the weak when they were being picked on. I have compassion for those that lack the strength and courage to stand up to bullies or to persevere over the hardships that life deals out. On the flip side, I find comfort in watching justice prevail, and watching the bullies, liars, and cheaters of the world receive their sentences from life.
I’m not a complete fool, of course. This man appeared to be sad, and I really knew nothing about him. He appeared to be a nice man, and even though he was cutting lawns and looked to be very poor, the situation in reality could have been the opposite. He could have been rich, and retired, and the lawn cutting was merely something he did to keep busy. Maybe he had been an asshole all of his life, and was indeed a liar and a cheat, and this was life’s karma coming back around to him. I don’t really know, but my tendency to assume that he was a victim of life’s harsh reality always wins the battle in my heart. It is something I know all too well about myself.
Either way, I am proud of this man. He is hanging on to life by a string. He is refusing to break, as am I. That day, we were in it together, even if he didn’t realize it. This economy has been tough, and life is not easy, but we are not giving up. We are working hard. We are both probably better than what we are getting paid to do everyday, but that doesn’t matter, because we keep moving forward no matter what life creates for us. Maybe he will rest in the shade, on a grassy knoll someday, rich with love and happiness. Maybe I will too. I hope so. I hope we all do, except for the assholes, of course.