Where Did He Go?

train at night
Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

There was a special offer for $1.99 entrees if you order drinks or sides at this Indian place where a lot of eateries reside.

The line to the restaurant stretched all the way to the outside street the entire day. It was about 7:30 pm and the line was shorter by then, I walked to the end of the line and spotted a classmate from 10 mins ago waiting in line.

We had a casual banter. As the line grew shorter I noticed the workers, sweat on their forehead, asking the same questions, repeating the same food-serving motions to each customer.

We went outside to eat at one of the tables on the street. The chair felt warm, many different people had sat on it this day. One of the staff who I saw earlier in the kitchen cooking Indian flatbread (naan) came outside for a smoke break. He looked fatigued.

He said they served 700 people today. The line never stopped, and he had been working since opening. LOL

I ate my bowl of rice with chicken, side of 2 samosas. I was hungry the food tasted good. On one of the empty chairs behind us sat a shabby looking dark skinned man in tattered clothes, he wore a backpack. He just sat there as we talked. Staring off into space. My friend talked about when he was briefly homeless, I thought that guy looked homeless and might take offense if he could overhear.

We went our separate ways. As I headed towards the train station, the man came up behind me from my left side muttering something. I removed my earphones to face him, “You ain’t gotta worry I got no weapons, no nothin on me”. He had a deep, gruff voice for someone not so tall. “I don’t have any money to give you” I said. “Don’t be scared I ain’t got nothin on me” he repeated. I wondered if I looked scared. He continued “I lost my wallet. I’m tryna get back home to Alabama. Do you have a marta card?” even after I said I have nothing for the second time.

I remembered a good helpful older friend of mine who didn’t give money to beggars even though he’s a generous man. I gave it a thought, “What can he do with a train pass? It’s not as if I am giving him money to buy drugs or alcohol”. “I have a marta card that should give you a couple of rides” I told him, “Are you sure its got money? Cause someone else gave me one with no money” he replied. I was a little bit put off by his entitlement and debated to not even give him the train card, “Listen, I don’t have to give you anything”, “I know i know”, I reached for my wallet in my back pocket, brought it into plain view, I wanted to show that I actually had no cash on me even though I wouldn’t have given him anything anyways. He stared, “I lost my wallet, I’m just tryna get back home”, “That’s probably a lie” I thought to myself. I took the card and gave it to him.

“Can you take the bus with this?”, “I don’t know I’ve never tried”. He took the card, immediately turned the other way, and walked off, distancing himself from the train station.

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