He was marching, dancing and walking up and down the sidewalk of Riverside Drive next to a small park along the banks of the Ohio River in Evansville, Indiana. His old school Sony Walkman cassette player was firmly held around his neck by a belt strap, the cassette door held shut with rubber bands. A church flyer with the word “Faith” on it was in his left breast pocket along with a handwritten note.
Motorist would drive by honking their horns and waiving at him. He would respond by waiving his American flag in his left hand and waiving his hand on the right. It was as if he were a fixture of Indiana and everyone looked forward to seeing him on their commute home.
As I approached I could see his smile grow from ear to ear. He was so excited to talk. He started talking to me before I was close enough to hear what he had to say.
Scattered on the ground before him were toy motorcycles, cars, newspapers, magazines and books… all neatly lined together. “What’s this,” I asked while pointing at a small toy car. “That’s my Ferrari, my brother gave it to me,” he said with a laugh. “What about this one,” I asked. “Oh, that’s my motorcycle – I used to ride, but now I ride a bike.”
As our conversation continued he stopped to think about his childhood. Pointing at the river he said, “One time when I was a kid, I swam in that river. It was a good thing I knew how to doggy paddle, because those currents got me.” He then told me that he is 66-years old and has always lived in the Evansville area, sometimes living on the Kentucky side of the river.
“I use to go to the Masonic Temple in Newburg. I then became a Jehovah Witness. I am now Muslim, but I go to all the churches, I like everybody, we are all friends,” he said with a smile.
American Author Bryant H. McGill once stated, "One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say." Some of the folks I have met, all I can do is sit and listen. I honestly don't know how to respond at times.