It seemed busier than normal, people bumping into one another without a word or glance of acknowledgement and complete with Thanksgiving day lines. I’d felt him watching me from the other side of the store so I held his eyes for a few seconds before veering off to condiments.
Something of his spirit walked with me in that aisle and I sensed we’d talk before checking out. A minute later he approached with a slow, weak gait and soft watery eyes of cataract blue. He was an African man I’d placed in his eighties who was missing nearly all of his teeth such that with his kind smile those that remained were easy to count at six.
It’s hard to explain how I knew him because I couldn’t tell you from where yet suspect it was from a world we both existed in previously.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
“No, sir. I don’t believe so.” I answered.
“Well let me ask you something. I’ve been looking for a newspaper and can’t find them. Do you know where they keep the newspapers around here?” he asked.
We were towards the end of an aisle at the front of the store and I looked near the cash registers where I’d seen them in the past. It dawned on me in that moment I’d not looked for one in nearly three years when once it had been a ritualistic part of checking out. I never did sign up for the promotional in-store subscriptions for delivery. I looked back at him and said,
“I’m sorry, sir but I’ve not seen a newspaper sold here in a while but perhaps they’re in another part of the store?”
“It don’t matter none. No one here seems to know but it’s okay. You have a nice day young lady” he said turning to walk away.
“Thanks, sir and you too” I replied to his back.
Curious I walked to the front of the store to see if I could spot any printed reading material and was somewhat surprised to find none, not even the standard Enquirer and People.
Shortly afterwards and walking to my car I saw the man at a coffee shop next door, sitting outside under an umbrella with the sun on his face and reading a newspaper.
It reminded me of my past when I knew nothing of electronics and the unveiling of an unseen sentence in print never ceased to be a novel source of joy. I used to wonder if either the novelty or joy would return.
The sight of him filled my heart with happiness that lasted the morning through and I was deeply thankful to witness his search, find and Sunday sunshine sojourn.