Posts Tagged ‘Kierkegaard’

Recently, on a warm day in the city of Boston, I raced through one of its many squares toward my favorite hot dog vendor.  I’d already spent most of my half-hour break running errands and knew that I was going to be late returning to work, but darnit, I needed to eat and wanted a good hot dog.  As I made my way through the square, an elderly man stepped into my path.  He said, “Can you spare a quarter?”  I gazed into his watery blue eyes and said, “No, but would you like a hot dog?”  I don’t know why I said what I said that day, and he certainly wasn’t expecting me to say what I said.  He frowned and blinked a few times and then said, “You don’t have a quarter?”  I didn’t quite put my hands on my hips in exasperation, but I did raise an eyebrow as I repeated, “Do you want a hot dog?”  He shrugged.  “Okay.”

He walked with me to the hot dog vendor.  We stood in line together, a small brown woman and a tall older white man.  He told me about his son who was going to give him money later in the week.  He asked me questions about myself  including where I went to school.  I gave him mostly vague responses, not wanting to share too much, but I did admit that I’d studied history at one phase.  He nodded, and then said with great pride, “At university I studied philosophy.”  He then proceeded to tell me about Kierkegaard.

As we moved to the front of the line, the hot dog vendor said, “Hey, dear.  Your usual?”  I nodded and then added, “And this gentleman has an order too.”  The man cleared his throat and then ordered a small dog.   “What about a drink?” I asked.   Like a child, he thought a moment and then said, “Oh, yes.” He looked over the line of drinks displayed on the cart and picked an orange soda.  The hot dog vendor kept looking at me, a quizzical expression on his face.  I just smiled.  The vendor shrugged and began to fill our orders.

“Where do you work?” the man asked as we waited.  I paused, and said, “Many places, but part-time in that church over there.  That’s where I’m coming from today.”  He nodded, his face taking on a sage expression.  “G.K. Chesterston,” he said.  “He wrote a book called Orthodoxy.”  I took my hot dog from the vendor.  “I’ll check it out,” I said and then walked away.

Though I have been in the square many times since, I have yet to see this man again.  Other people, men and women, come up to me and ask for money.  I say no.  I have not been compelled to offer up anymore hot dogs.  Perhaps that moment will come again.  Meanwhile, each week, there is a gentleman I see in a wheelchair with his sign and his cup.  I do not give him money either, but I do smile and nod in greeting as I walk by.  He smiles and nods back, and that seems to be enough.

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