He Asked Me With His Eyes
|Photographed by Steve Bingham, Old Man|
He stood between snowbanks on the passenger side of my car. Stopped at a red light, I read his cardboard sign, and studied the man holding it. A soft grey beard hung to his neck, and a woolen Russian hat wrapped around his ears and head.
The gentleman’s eyes sought confirmation for the nonverbal cues in the car ahead of me. Moving forward, he approached their passenger window, and shook hands with the person there, nodding his head politely.
He saw me watching, and asked me with his eyes if he should come over. The light turned green. Awkwardly, clumsily, I pulled over to the side of the road, and said yes with my eyes.
Pulling a bag of Chinese steamed buns from my purse, I stretched to the passenger door. I was too short, and couldn’t reach the window or the door. The gentleman stood politely outside my window, while I struggled to reach it for him. Seeing my inability, he reached for the handle, and opened my car.
A flash of panic revealed to me how vulnerable I suddenly was if his motives were ignoble. A gun in his pocket and I would be hostage in an instant. My purse lay on the seat between us, and our eyes met.
“Here, they’re sweet jam buns. They’re good.” I proferred the bag.
The light changed from red to green again, and I reached uselessly for the passenger door, as cars lined up behind me, waiting.
There was no time for conversation, no time for more explanations, or a “God bless you.” The exchange was too fast, and left me feeling sad for a missed opportunity.
Smiling a gracious thank you, he shut the door for me, and stepped back onto the snowbank. Slipping my bag of guava jam buns into his jacket, he stood tall, and tucked his hands into pockets.
There is a vulnerability in our asking, and a vulnerability in our offering help, too, I’m finding. Two humans meet on equal footing, and clumsily, respectfully, speak with their eyes.
(Linking too with Emily and gang at Imperfect Prose.)