here, there, everywhere


In At home on September 23, 2003 at 7:49 pm

He is an old man.  His grey hair is short, cut close to the head, and his beard is neatly trimmed.  His pinstripe suit isn’t new or pressed, but the hems of his pants break cleanly over his shoes, and the cuffs of his sleeves come right to the wrist.  The collar of his plaid dress shirt is folded smartly over the lapels of the suit jacket.  His leather dress shoes are old and well-worn.

He gazes at the ground as he walks.  His figure is stooped and the limp in his left leg hampers his stride.  He’s not shuffling though – he picks up his feet and sets them down firmly.  His left arm hangs stiffly at his side, while he occasionally raises his right arm to swat above his head at unseen flies or cobwebs.  He coughs often, but never clutches his side, nor does the coughing slow him down.

It’s Friday evening, and his unhurried stride prevents him from keeping up with the hoards of pedestrians who are rushing out of office buildings and scurrying down the street.  As he enters the crowded shopping mall, a group of young adults, oblivious to everything but themselves, walks into his path.  He bumps into the young man, knocking him off-stride.  The youth glances over his shoulder, looks the old man up and down, and turns his attention back to his girlfriend.

The gentleman makes his way to the basement of the Eaton Centre and walks to the back of the food court where he pushes through the door to the men’s washroom.  Fifteen minutes later he reappears, fastening the bottom button of his suit jacket.  He walks slowly past Arby’s, glancing at the sandwiches, and is eventually swallowed up by the crowd as he moves to his next destination.

This was originally an assignment for my magazine class.  When our instructor told us to observe and describe a stranger, I knew exactly the person I wanted to write about.  I sat on the street corner for about an hour before this gentleman walked by and made my day.

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