Everyone deserves a second chance.
He stood out as if from another time; square peg in a round hole.
No one went unnoticed from my newsstand at the city square. He bought a newspaper and sat with his coffee, the old school way.
His drooping shoulders, parched lips and skin that could not remember what the sun looked like from years of deprivation, yearned to tell something. Like a lost pup, his gaze held on to every face that passed by his table. He sought a friend, for a familiar conversation, a simple greeting. Instead met his eyes, drifting faces; talking faces with wired ears as if spies on some mission. The mobile phone revolution era had completely passed him by.
In between his sips he talked to me. A man of few words but many riddles, Roger had served 38 years in prison; went in, a young fella in 1977 and came out at the ripe age of 62. For second degree murder.
“Young blood with anger is a lethal combination”, he had said while collecting himself and his thoughts up from his chair. I had swallowed my visible disquiet. I did not see Roger for the next few days. I was relieved.
He came by next week; same coffee, newspaper and hopeful looks. People passed by, almost seeing through him. Some youngsters stopped by to take pouty selfies, making that V- sign and he could not contain himself anymore.
“Hey Johnny, are these phones ‘smart’ for real? Y’all look blockheads,” he guffawed.
Old generation rants, always! He believed that he had walked out of prison only to enter a dystopia. And yet he was desperate- to fit in.
“I like you Johnny but y’all are maze that I don’t get”, he said and walked away humming ‘I walk the line’ by Johnny Cash.
The next day he seemed taken up. I was busy too, scoring on Tinder while catching up on my friends’ updates simultaneously. We were actively debating that millennials have it in them to face their problems. I typed a quick update: Don’t facebook your problems. Face Them. #millennialproblems
Just when I was feeling accomplished, he tapped me with his diary.
“Johnny! I think I know how to turn things around, like ol’ times”, he was beaming.
I read his notes aloud, adding my take after each pointer.
- Don’t cross the road if you are wired.
“So what you mean is don’t get distracted by phone. Cool.”
- If you go somewhere, be there.
“Ok….No recording or Checking-In?”
- If you order food, eat it.
“Don’t click? No Insta. Gotcha”
- If you are with someone, talk to her.
“No chatting on smart phones, right!”
“Roger that”, I smirked and went back to my chat window. The man had clearly gone cuckoo.
He waved goodbye while holding on to the printout of ‘Taste of Country Music’ ticket. I had helped him with online ticket for the event and I felt swell. #Livenletlive
My phone starts buzzing in the night. I check only to find a video of Roger singing with a bunch of youngsters- ‘On the road again’ by Willie Nelson.
My lone wolf is finally finding his footing.
A picture comes next, him holding his diary. It reads:
If you go somewhere, be there. Some experiences are worth capturing.