There is a man named Robert, who hangs out on the sidewalk by the Ralph's across the street from my office. From afar, his eyes look vacant and tired; however, when I say hi and ask how he is, I see his eyes are full of contentment and joy, though I have no idea what has happened in his life to lead him here. I don't know where he sleeps at night. I don't know the last time he had a fresh set of clothing. I don't know when was the last time he had a nice warm shower. He never asks for anything, he never bothers anyone, but if you offer him something he always says "Yes, please" and "thank you." If you say hello to him, he always smiles and says hello back. Robert always brings a smile to my face.
I didn't always say hi to him, and for a long time I didn't know his name. I used to walk by him without paying him any mind, thinking if he left me alone, I'll leave him alone. To be fair, there have been numerous times when I've been friendly with our neighborhood homeless and have been yelled at or growled at, sometimes I think I better not risk the embarrassment of being yelled at on the street.. However, a little old woman in my life reminded me that sometimes we just need human connection. Sometimes people just need to be heard, or know that they exist. So, the next time I saw Robert, I learned his name and said hi. When I realized he wasn't scary, I started asking him how he was every time I saw him. Then it evolved to having small conversation with him.
It turns out he is from Utah, and has been in LA for about 20 years. His birthday is July 27th. He says he has no family, because they are all now deceased, but he used to have brothers and sisters. He loves Star Wars, and Star Trek, and Indiana Jones. He also loves horror movies like The Shining.
We are moving offices this week, and I know I may never see him again, but I will miss him. I will miss his warm almost childlike smile and when he waves at me, and says "See you later!" Yes, Robert...I don't know when in this life I might ever see you again, but it certainly isn't goodbye!
BIG LOVE & HUGS