Clunk, clickclack. Clunk, clickclack. The old man approached the bench next to me at the bus stop, his blue windbreaker following the severe arch of his back. His wooden cane and black shoes were loud, like horseshoes, but in slow motion. Super slow motion. First the cane, then a foot, then the other. He sat down without looking at me.
I have seen this old man before, I have even written about him. In all frankness, I thought he’d be long gone by now. I had also thought that if he saw me again, he would recognize me. Guess not. I sat cross-legged, swiping through my phone and chewing gum. I looked over at his face, and saw snot frozen in his nose. Damn, he’s fucking old.
I heard an approaching engine, and looked up to see my bus, which I knew was the bus he would be taking. I began to walk towards the bus when I noticed he wasn’t getting up. His wrinkly hands atop his cane, he was trying to propel himself up, but could not. He scooted closer to the edge of the bench and tried again to pull himself upright, but still, nothing. He looked up to me, watching him. I extended my hand out.
“No. No, I’ve got it!” he said with a shooing of the hand.
“Okay, sir.” With a turn of my boot heel and embarrassment creeping up my neck, I made my way to the bus. I hope no one saw that. I swiped my transfer card and sat in the back of the bus, which is elevated in comparison to the front of the bus. Sheesh, how rude. I was just trying to help.
The old man took his time getting on the bus. He chatted with the bus driver, about the weather. He made his way through the bus. Clunk, clickclack. The bus driver watched him through the rear view mirror, waiting. Clunk, clickclack, all the way through the bus, up the three steps, and to the last row of seats. This dude…
And then I got it, I understood: Pride.
His pride forbade him from receiving my help. It was his pride which made him sit all the way in the back when he could have had the first seat. He could do it his damn self! He wasn’t being a cranky-pants, nor was trying to put me in my place. He just deemed himself no different than me. I realized I was being foolish for immediately assuming he was incapable of taking care of himself. He was about a hundred years old, he sounded like a rodeo when he walked, and he made us all wait while he took a seat, but he kept his pride intact.
I totally dig that, old dude. Keep clunk, clickclacking.