I admit I’ve done some kind of crazy things in this effort to rewire my brain, like the time I flagged down an old van to give $100 to a man waving a french fry. I’ve approached strangers, chased cars for blocks, followed people all over stores, and interrupted private conversations. Today I had one of the wackiest ideas yet.

I was at Wendy’s getting a chicken sandwich for lunch. There was a long line of cars at the drive-through, and a long line at the counter inside as well. The two women taking orders at the register were harried. The young guy in front of me had his right pant leg rolled up. He got up to the counter and asked the woman how she was doing. “Stressed, I bet,” he added. She nodded and the guy placed his order. Then he asked to use the restroom and she gave him some kind of gold token from a bowl by the register.

It seemed like they had his food ready in no time, and the tray was slid onto the counter. At least, I thought that was his. A baked potato and something else. He hadn’t returned from the bathroom and the tray sat there, looking rather forlorn. Then I got the idea to slip a hundred dollar bill under the plate on his tray and steal away with my chicken sandwich. I imagined him picking up his tray, then sitting down to eat. He would see the corner of the bill sticking out.

All of a sudden, the woman behind the counter snatched the tray back. There was something wrong with the order. By the time they passed it back out, the guy was there and he took the tray over to a table by the window. I felt mildly defeated, even though a sneaky gift wasn’t my style and would have broken one of my primary rules.

As I left, bag in hand, a tall young man came whipping toward me across the parking lot. I said hello as he passed, and he slowed down. “How you doing, ma’am?” he asked. I said I was doing fine and wasn’t it a beautiful day. “Yes, ma’am,” he said.”Yes, it is.”

Byron

I commented on how polite he was. “Someone must have raised you right,” I added. “Yes, ma’am. I was raised in the south. I’m from Mississippi.” He told me that where he grew up – if you didn’t say “ma’am” – well, you were courting a paddling.

“So,” I said, “what would you say if someone gave you a hundred dollars?” He chuckled. “I would say ‘thank you!’ Yes, I would.”

“Okay,” I said, and I held the bill out to him. “This is for you.” “Thank you! Thank you, ma’am!” He looked at me and smiled a crooked smile. “I have to give you a hug,” he said. He put his right arm around me and pulled me close. He said his name was Byron and I asked what he was going to do with the money. “I’m going to give it to my son,” he said. “How old is he?” I asked. “He’s almost one. His name is Byron, too. I’m going to buy diapers and milk.” He pulled out his phone to show me the resemblance in a photo.

“It looks like you need a new phone, too,” I observed. “Yes, ma’am,” he agreed. I couldn’t really see the picture, although Byron tried his best. He said he was out of work and headed to a temp agency across the street. He reached for my hand. “Thank you, ma’am!” he said one last time. Then he was gone.

 

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One Response to Byron

  1. DJan says:

    Byron is a sweetie. I am glad it worked out that he received the hundred. And good luck to him finding work; I read that black males have the hardest time finding work in this recession.

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