Hot dog John

I don’t know his last name.

No one calls him by it, anyway. He’s Hot Dog John, with the faded umbrella over his hot dog cart parked on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. He sells hot dogs for $1.25 each, and on pretty days at lunch there’s a constant knot of people all around his cart.

Today is not a pretty day. The wind is cold and strong and snow spat intermittently, clouds coming and going and chilly sunshine peeking out. But he was out there at lunch, bundled up against the wind, humming to himself when I walked up.

I’m tired today, after a late meeting went long and the drive home over dark, wet roads took longer. I’m running on short sleep so my resistance is low and when I heard he was out today, I couldn’t help it, had to take my $1.25 and see.

I wanted a hot dog on the way to the gym, though it doesn’t make the most sense, really.

Hot Dog John was there, saying he was warm even if the weather wasn’t, cheerfully telling me that all toppings are free, and I have three mustards to choose from.

I picked French’s brown mustard, a bit of pickle relish, and he pulled a hot dog from its hot-water bath and rested it in a bun and he hummed to himself.

It’s cold and I pull of one glove and eat as I walk and my hand is chapped by the wind but it takes like summer.

I feel warmer with every bite.


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