Young Man With a Blue Cap
Vincent Van Gogh
Young men in caps and hoodies always make me nervous. There is something slightly sinister and foreboding, particularly about hoodies, especially if there is a baseball cap underneath the hoodie. I always suspect the young fellow is up to no good, so I was a bit apprehensive when I saw the young man walk into the restaurant yesterday. It was Friday, the end of the week, and I didn't feel like cooking, so I stopped at a McDonald's for a hamburger and root beer. Shhhh... don't tell anyone, but I also occasionally ~~ as in once every six months ~~ like to have an A & W momma burger. Anyway, the place was crowded, and I managed to snag the last remaining table. The young man came in, took his order, and walked around the restaurant with his tray, eyeing my table. He circled twice, and then came back and asked if I would mind sharing my table with him.
He didn't appear to be the type of person I would necessarily want to break bread with, so I made some sort of motion with my hands, and said, "No, I would rather not..." but he didn't understand me, and he thought I had said, 'No, I don't mind..." So, he sat down. I sighed and continued eating. And then I glanced over at him, and underneath the baseball cap and the hoodie was a very sweet face. He was about 22 or 23 and had a lovely expression. I immediately felt very bad, so I said, "This restaurant is very crowded this afternoon", trying to make up for my earlier rejection. He features immediately relaxed, and he smiled and said, "Yes, it is". He had an unusual accent, and I think perhaps he was from a country in South America. I wanted to ask him where he was from, but I wasn't sure if he wanted to be drawn into a conversation. So I finished my hamburger, and as I got up to leave, I smiled at him and said, "Enjoy your meal". He smiled a very sweet, open smile, and I left.
Afterwards, as I was heading home, I felt very bad about the whole encounter. I could have been more friendly. I could have made him feel welcome. Perhaps he was a visitor here, and he wanted to interact with someone from the country he was visiting. My own brother has travelled to many countries throughout the world, including South America, Asia, Africa and all throughout Europe. He always had stories of the people he met there, and the conversations he had had with them. Here was my opportunity to be part of this young man's story of his visit to Canada, and I missed it.
How many of us do this? I'm as guilty as anyone. I size people up by how they appear, how they dress, or how they present themselves. I wonder how many times I have been completely wrong. That young man had the courage to sit at my table; I should have at least had the courage to be more friendly and outgoing towards him.
“Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.” ~~ Shirley MacLaine