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The Man With The Stroller

The Man With The Stroller

Hello and good day!

I roll my head back and forth in half circles to work the cricks out of my neck.

I press the heels of my palms into my eye sockets and swivel my wrists side to side to wake myself up just a bit.

I squeeze my hands into fists and then stretch my fingers out straight again.

Come on hands, give me one more day of writing.

The fellow I want to tell about deserves a good effort.

He is a man who pushes an empty stroller around the neighborhood where our chocolate shop is located.

At least, he used to push the stroller around our neighborhood.

Now that his son has changed schools, he frequents a different neighborhood, five blocks west of us.

It used to be that we'd see him every other day and he'd hang around.

He would park his empty stroller outside our shop and come in to get a free hot chocolate.

He isn't very talkative.

He's usually far too tired to talk very much.

What he really loved was to sit on the wooden bench in the corner of our shop.

Customers would come and go, and he'd just keep on sitting there, watching.

Sometimes, if he sat long enough, he would slide down in the bench until his head rested on the windowsill.

And then he'd close his eyes and sleep for a little.

We wouldn't wake him unless his mouth splayed open, or he started to snore.

It wasn't so much that we minded the snoring. We've all done a little snoring in our day.

But for his sake, we didn't want anybody to see him that way.

Nobody would want a stranger looking at you with your head thrown back, your mouth hanging open, and with a rumble coming out of your nostrils.

The young man came in so often because he had time to kill.

Here are the particulars of his situation, which we learned over time, as he divulged to us whatever his energy would allow on a given day.

The man's son is severely autistic. He and his boy live together in a city about 40 minutes north of our shop. However, one of the best schools in the region for autistic kids is in our little town of Issaquah.

Because the man wants his son to go to the best possible school, they make the commute.

Unfortunately, the young father isn't too well off economically.

He works a night shift as a security guard at a cabinet factory.

When the child's mother learned about her son's ailment, she abandoned the dad and the son, leaving dad to raise the autistic son by himself.

While dad goes to work at the cabinet factory, grandma, the dad's mom, comes over to sleep with the boy.

In the morning, grandma goes to her job, and the father rides the bus south with his son, to Issaquah, to drop the boy off at school.

And then he waits in Issaquah all day for his son to get out.

Then they take the bus together back north.

At the beginning of this school year, the boy started at a new campus.

The new location is such that our chocolate shop is no longer between the bus stop and the school.

We aren't seeing our friend too much anymore.

He doesn't have the juice to visit places that aren't on the direct path.

By the time he makes it to Issaquah, he is the walking dead.

Luckily, I happened upon him yesterday. I was walking from our office to the shop.

He was coming in the other direction, pushing his son's empty stroller down a long, gravely grey sidewalk that runs in front of a tall office building.

We each stopped on either side of a crosswalk.

A red light forced us to wait. Cars drove between us.

We both started to smile as soon as we saw each other.

I waved.

We decided not to wait for the light to change before kicking up a conversation.

I yelled at him from across the street, over the sound of motors and tires on asphalt and the bodies of cars generating humming wind.

"How have you been!" I yelled.

"Good!" he yelled back.

From across the street, I could see how his upper lip roofs up in the middle, revealing his front teeth in their entirety.

And I could see how tired his eyes looked He looked like he could barely stand.

"How's your boy!" I yelled.

"Great. I'm going to get him now!" he yelled back.

The light changed from red to green and instead of crossing, I waited.

He walked up next to me with his tan colored stroller.

The stroller has a hood with a plastic window that is always pulled down.

I figure that his son probably likes it that way, because the hood is always down, even when it isn't raining.

We stood on the corner. The sidewalk was grey and so was the sky.

Cars kept driving by.

"When are you coming by the shop?" I asked.

"It's a lot harder now. We're at a new location with the school."

"Yeah. I heard. We'd still love to see you one of these days."

"Got anything new?"

"Yeah, a whole bunch."

"Ok. I'll try to come by tomorrow," he said.

"We'll make it worth your while with samples and free hot chocolate."

"What time will you be there?" he asked.

"2:30 I think."

"Ah man. That's too late. I have to be here around 2:30."

"I'll try to get there earlier," I said.

"Ok. I'll do my best."

"Good to see you."

"You too."

He walked down the sidewalk.

I waited for the light to change and watched him while I waited.

He was walking down a quiet street with office centers on either side, trees that had been planted up and down the sidewalk by the city, and big green mountains on the horizon out in front of him.

Nobody would know that this fellow is an everyday hero.

If you were to see this young man through your car window, shuffling along, looking tired, and pushing an old tan stroller with the hood pulled down and the seat empty, you wouldn't think that he was anybody special.

But he is.

He has more will and grit than just about anybody you'll ever meet.

He's one of the noblest people I know.

He's bringing up his autistic son all alone. His wife left him.

He works the night shift and takes his son to school every single day.

He catches cat naps when he can, and he grinds.

He isn't rich or flashy.

He hasn't invented any new technology.

He lives in a cheap apartment and does security at a cabinet factory.

And he's a hero.

We should keep our eyes out for these kinds of people.

They deserve the utmost respect and admiration.

And if you can do a kind deed for a person like this, it would be a great thing.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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