This wasn't the post I had planned to write. But it was one of those instances where I felt I really should get this recorded before I forgot what actually happened. I wanted to keep a little of the magic before I lost it in the normal course of forgetting things.
I was standing in line at the bank yesterday, holding a plain white envelope with a check in it. I hadn't looked at the check, but it was one I was expecting since I had apparently overpaid some taxes back in 2004.
I didn't open the envelope before I got to the bank, knowing that this money would really help me right now, and feeling like I didn't need to see the amount. I didn't want to spoil it. I felt so relieved to be able to deposit some money into my account.
As I was waiting in line, the man was sitting near the entry way, waiting for someone. He looked at my shoes, little faux patent leather flats with buckles, and said, "I wish I had someone who would run up to me with a nice pair of shoes like that."
I half-listened to him, as I opened the envelope to get the check ready for the teller. I think I smiled at him distractedly, not really listening. He repeated his comment, as I looked at the check, my heart sinking.
The check was for $8.33. Not even enough to buy dinner with the friends I was meeting. I was glad I was wearing my big black sunglasses. They hide a lot (tears, frustration) and I was hoping that the disappointment from receiving this dinky check was also hidden by the lenses. All my anticipated relief had instantly been dashed to pieces.
The man said to me, "I don't have anybody."
Then I heard him and snapped out of my stupor. "I'm sorry to hear that," I said to him.
Then he smiled, revealing a few missing teeth, and said, "Don't ever say you're sorry. Life's too short to be sorry. You're too pretty to be sorry."
And then the teller called me, as I had a lump in my throat, to cash that silly little check.
Outside the bank, I saw the man again, this time walking with a woman who he introduced as his sister. He said to me, laughingly, "So, you're following me, now?"
I said, Yes, because you give such good advice. I'm going to listen to what you said and live by it if I can.
Then he stuck out his hand to introduce himself. "I'm Jomo," he smiled again and shook my hand with a firm, warm grip.
Then he pointed at the camera hanging around my neck, and made an imaginary movement with his hands, as if to fine tune a lens. "Stay focused," he said, laughing.
We parted ways at the corner, after I asked Jomo if I could take his photo to remember him by. He wished me well, and I was glad for the $8.33, and the advice that came unasked for but was worth so much more.