I’ve just made eye contact with a woman wandering downtown as I cross the street going to work. They’re sad eyes.
She’s what I would have considered old before I got old myself. Maybe a little lost or confused. Hard to tell. Not homeless, just in need of help.
“No, lo siento,” I tell her. Despite living in a city that’s 60 percent or so Hispanic, my only two snippets of Spanish are “Mi Tio Boni toca en la orquestra” and “Me gustaría tener un helado de chocolate medio, por favor,” neither of which come up that often in conversation.
Disregarding my response completely, she launches into a lengthy monologue complete with hand motions and emphatic eyebrow movement, but, sadly, no sock puppets. She pauses hopefully, helplessly, waiting for my response. She needs me.
And there’s not a damn thing I can do. “Lo siento,” I repeat, shrug apologetically, and trudge off to work.
She continues on her way, totally crestfallen. It’s her against the world, and the world just won.
That’s when it hits me. If I’m going to live in a city where my peanut butter accompaniment says “pan blanco” on the wrapper, there’s only one solution for existing here.
This encounter has spurred me to take action. It’s the least I can do.
I’m never, ever, nunca going to make eye contact with anyone again.
Unless, of course, they would like to inquire about what exactly my Tio Boni does for a living. Preferably with sock puppets …