Sidewalk Ghosts / “The Plumberman”

There is genuine intent in his eyes; an obvious interest that literally stops me in my tracks.


The Plumberman

Every second of every year we open and close our eyes to life as it passes in front of our very faces; in each, filling ourselves with influence the world drafts in our direction. Like spiritual lungs our internal value systems constrict and relax as we breathe in the words and deeds of others. Some days we are inspired, others, not quite. But for those of us willing, even just for an instant, to put our fears aside. For those of us wanting to embrace the simple notion that our blood runs a similar red; then, perhaps every interaction we have can be written to good reason and toward a result that is all so empowering: The growth of empathy toward one another.

I did not get a chance to photograph him. Not even to let him know of his impact on me that day. Yet to not write of his example would be a disservice to the few minutes we spent sharing time in parking a lot titled, number nine.

I’ll just call him “the plumberman.” A lone individual, who at 7:45am, sitting on his tailgate in an almost empty parking lot, was taking break from his 3am job start–a remarkable example, he validates what a well-adjusted life outlook can have upon us all.

“Good morning!”he said as I dug through my pockets for meter change. It wasn’t that I was caught off guard, for there are many mornings I receive such a gesture, and I’m sure most of us happily exchange passing “hellos” as part of our habits of politeness. That alone is cause for applause, and a great healing power far beyond our realization.

But his greeting was more than a passing hello. There was genuine intent in his eyes; an obvious interest that literally stopped me in my tracks. Yes, Mr. outgoing had been upstaged, and oh, how wonderful it was.

I leaned against my car. No rush needed, and happily so, I was early for my scheduled meeting. For about twenty minutes we broke bread, speaking of culture and society, all mixed with a little insight from our personal life and history. Two complete strangers talking on open and unified ground. Two personalities from absolute different backgrounds, both strangers to each other, conversing on a most grand subject: Society and our place in it.

My well was filled and the day was only beginning, at least for me. I had not been at it since 3am, as did my new friend. A new person in my life, who as we chatted in the corner of parking lot nine, had shared convincing proof to support the thesis of Sidewalk Ghosts.

For in a city of millions. Backed by a landscape of endless streets, horizons and innumerable parking lots, I had found an overlooked oasis. A watering hole that flowed freshest of drink, even a place, as unexpected as it was, allowed a most important reservoir to again be filled: My faith in other human.

So to the Plumberman we rise in appreciation. Thank you for the lesson my good friend.

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