Monday, December 21, 2015

A Metro Carol.

The day after that last post about kindness and commuting, this happened:

"Spare any change? A nickel or a dime? Spare change, spare change? A nickel or a dime?" 

The man made his way through the silent metro car, looking straight ahead. I'd seen him pass through the Red Line a few times before over the past year, always with the same refrain. This morning he'd reached the end of the car, ignored, when another man signaled to him and turned toward his bag. 

He pulled out a zippered, black case close to the size of a bread loaf and handed it over.

The panhandler wore a jean jacket and a hard-edged face that looked neither young nor very old. He took the case, which looked like it could hold CDs or something similarly undesirable, holding it away from him uncertainly. 

"What's this, man?"

"It's change," the man replied. Jean jacket shook the case and it jingled. His look changed from confusion to suspicious disbelief. "Are you serious?" He unzipped the case and peered inside. Coins rolled back and forth behind the opening. 

He stood staring at the man. "You're giving this to me?" He paused. "I'll spend it," he warned.

"It's for you," the man said, nodding and still. He was tall, heavy and stood with a roller bag. 

Jean jacket broke into a lopsided smile, pleased but obviously confused. "For real?"

"I tried to run it through the change machine this morning, but it didn't work, so it must be for you," the man said kindly. "Enjoy your holiday, man."

Visibly stunned, the recipient's looked turned somber and he stepped forward with an open hand, straight as a razor. "Thank you," he said. They shook hands, the train stopped, and the guy got off with the black case clutched under his arm. 

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