What the Nose Knows His smell comes first; my nose knows he’s near before I see him. It’s a combination of cigarettes, sweat, and plain ol’ dirt. I don’t know where he comes from, or where he sleeps at night, but nearly every morning on my walk he’s there: limp, greasy, dark hair and beard framing a tense face, brown shoes with laces tied in knots, brown jacket stained with oil, brown pants landing a few inches too far above his grey woolen socks. The smell’s enough to make you want to march past at high speed. Which is what I usually do, sidestepping around him as he stomps back and forth on the sidewalk near the crosswalk, alternating between sucking his cigarette and grunting towards passer-bys. I’ve never heard him speak. I hold my breath.
Bodies Can Lie I try to see every body as the same as me; we’re all this happy, healthy spirit thang packed into a physical vessel. I resist the urge to let fear and ignorance colour what I see in that vessel. I fail. Especially with this guy. To be honest, he kinda freaks me out.
So this morning I tried again. As I walked towards him I tried to see past his appearance, past the smell, past the grunts as he stepped toward me. I softened my resistance to him. I tried to see from my heart, not my head. And the fear left. I strolled past and, all chilled out, waited at the cross-walk.
Sunshine Somehow, he noticed the change. He turned to me, arms stuck straight out like a scarecrow, fingers curling in, face screwing up with the effort to speak. He looked me in the eye and shouted “HAVE A GOOD DAY!”
[note: this is not a pic of him; just a similar-looking guy]