An unofficial greeter


I see him nearly every time I drive through the town by the river.

The road dips down low and runs along the water there, probably just about where the old canal used to be, before turning right hard to cross the bridge, climb up the other side out of the valley.

If you go straight instead of turning right, you’re on the main street, a church at the corner and houses rising up the hillside behind.

I saw him at a council meeting the first time I attended. He rides a motorized wheelchair, lower legs swollen huge and useless. I wondered what had destroyed his circulation. When I left he was driving his wheelchair down the sidewalk.

And every time I drive through that town, I see him again, motoring up and down the sidewalk.

Every time I wonder who he is, what he does, and why he spends his days on the sidewalk.

I think I know why, now.

Monday when I saw him, I was heading home after battling the Pittsburgh-suburb traffic, hungry and tired.

He was at the intersection where the road turns to cross the bridge, at the corner in front of the church. I watched him nod a greeting to the vehicle in front of me. Then to me. And in the rear view mirror he was still greeting those of us passing through his corner of the world.

Just small nods, eye contact from across the street.

The town’s unofficial greeter.

 

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