When we got a puppy in June, i became the “evening walker” of this little guy. Our usual routine is to make a tour down the street, around the corner, up the next road, around another corner and back down our street to our house. At the one end of our street is an old man who sits on his driveway in a wheelchair every night. At first, I just ignored him. He looks like an old fisherman with the dark, weathered face and 3 day-old beard. His white hair is always rumpled and his appearance is unkempt and unappealing. i’d always make sure that our puppy, that thinks EVERYONE is his friend, didn’t bother him when we passed by. i’d sometimes have to pull him to the far side of the sidewalk because at times Mr. Grumpy sits right in the centre of it making it impossible to get by easily.
One day while i was passing by without our dog, i thought i’d take the chance and say “Hi” to him. We always tease my dad that he makes friends wherever he goes and i kinda felt like i should befriend this slovenly man; maybe make is day, you know? i was pretty sure that most people treated him without much regard so i’d be the “heroin” in his day. As i sauntered by, i looked at him and with a big grin offered, “Hi!” Much to my “heroin” surprise his response back wasn’t “Hi, to you, too!” but my happiness was met with a “Hrump!” Nice…… Ok, i thought…. note to self NOT to act too enthusiastic whenever i passed by.”
i’m not one to give up easily, though, and with a few more times passing by i tried other tactics like, “Looks like it might rain, huh?” which was met with “I doubt it! Hrump!” or “Wow, it’s hot, huh?” and the reply was just “Hrump!” One day when i walked by with my husband i offered a simple, “Hello”, to which he gave a sound which “sounded like a duck” as my husband decided. Give up? You bet i did! I started taking another route with my dog so i wouldn’t have to encounter him and his “hrumpiness”; he was ruining my happiness.
i decided one day, though, that i wouldn’t be stopped by his nasty attitude; i’d keep trying and see where it got me. i figured that this man was lonely and probably just wanted to be left alone but i kept thinking about my dad and how he wouldn’t give up so neither should i. So, one evening as Tanner and i were walking past his house, i was frustrated because he was in the centre of the sidewalk, again. This time, i decided to let Tanner make the introductions and be his friend. Tanner ran up to him and jumped on his lap. To my surprise, Mr. Grumpy started to laugh and pet Tanner and say, “Nice dog you got there!” Ahhh.. my chance! i walked up to him and said, “I don’t know your name!” i handed him my hand and we made the proper introductions.
tonight i walked past him, again. as Tanner stopped to be friendly, i figured i’d ask him how he was doing. i proceeded to find out that he’s fighting with his daughter who has her hooks in his house for when he passes on and that his only son died at only 50 years of age. i also learned that he started a small business with his son when he was a teenager to keep him out of trouble and that he sang in the church choir when he was a boy. thanks to Tanner, i found these things out.
Funny how perceptions of people are sometimes so off. makes one really stop and think, doesn’t it? i’m not saying that i’ve started up a life-long friendship but i feel like i’ve done something positive for me and that makes me feel good.