anthony and i were out on his last dad lunch as a kindergartner. anthony likes multiple places but hardees is his favorite. he says they have the best meat sandwiches of anyone. for a long while he confused hardees and arbys because the names were so similar. after sensing his lean towards hardees i taught him a trick to remember his favorite haunt. i told him to think how it's "hard" to wait to go to hardees because i love them so much. post-memory-trick when i'd ask where he wanted to go the wheels would start whirring and then he'd excitedly say hardees!--because it's soooo hard to wait to go again.
so we're at hardees, sitting at a table where i'm looking out a window overlooking the parking lot and anthony has a great view over my shoulder at one of their floating tv's (which i unsurprisingly find most annoying--and i'm not alone in this). as we're talking and eating i see a scene begin to unfold over anthony's shoulder across the street in front of a building marked "law offices".
a nicely dressed man exited an expensive land rover and on crutches struggled to the front of the vehicle. he popped the hood and effortfully tried reaching in for something down in the engine well. i watched this play out for a few moments while anthony was sharing a school story. as the man continued to struggle to grasp something just out of his labored reach, i interrupted anthony, telling him to follow me. he and i jogged across the parking lot and crossed the street to where the man still stood before his open hood. i asked if he needed help. his stood upright, re-assuming a resting position on his crutches. he looked at me intensely for a moment, a smile softening his face. he said, "thank you. thank you very much but i'm doing fine." i told him i'd spent some time on crutches and know how arduous even the smallest seeming thing can be so was sympathetic to his task. he said, "i cannot tell you how appreciative i am you stopped. it's so kind. but i'm ok. thank you." anthony and i said it wasn't a problem, turned and returned to our lunch.
as we continued our meal i kept an eye on this fellow. in time he finished under the hood, closed it up, worked his way back to the driver door, grabbed a shoulder bag, got it situated around his neck and began slowly crutching around the corner and down the street. i considered going back and offering to carry his cumbersome bag to his destination but instead chose to enjoy the rest of my dad lunch which was as mentioned the last one i'd have with anfer as a kindergartner.
less than two minutes later the man rounded back around the corner and had the car door open again. i figured he forgot something and could vividly imagine the curse he might have uttered in having to back-track on such a hot, humid day. as this all took place just left of anthony's face i couldn't help but keep tabs on the man's progress. next he was in the car, seeming like he was about to drive away but at my next quick glance he had slid over into the passenger seat and then with great antics and deliberation pulled his legs, one after the other, across the center console so he was properly seated in the passenger side. i now assumed he was waiting for someone to drive him away (and thankful he had a helper). after a few more minutes, he got out, on the passenger side, and began messing with the side view mirror. i remember near-wincing at this operation as he was holding onto the top of the door and kept wobbling back and forth a few times almost closing the door on his own fingers (i'm sure we can agree that would have definitely catapulted this debacle to a long-remembered affair, having his one hand closed in the door, on crutches and his free hand unable to maneuver to open the door--that is, assuming he didn't just lock himself out of the auto as well). none of that happened though. but what did happen is he moved himself to the front of the car, re-popped the hood and started rooting around again, perfectly returning to the state i initially found him in. after his repeat antics under the hood he made his way to the drivers side again and seemed about to repeat the whole scenario over. now i was perplexed.
anthony and i rose to leave. i threw one last glance towards the man. he was back under the hood. once in the car i headed his way. anthony seeing me turn the wrong way asked where we were going. i said i wanted to check on our friend one last time. surprised, anthony said, "that was our friend?"
by the time i pulled up an older lady and small child stood next to the man. from my rolled down window i heard the fellow say, "i cannot tell you how appreciative i am you stopped. it's so kind. but i'm ok. thank you." the exact words, said in the exact tone of gratitude he said to anthony and i. i didn't even bring the car to stop but continued to roll on and then accelerated away.
that night at dinner, i told this story and asked the table (as the question of the night) what they thought he was doing. answers ranged from trying to get a lawyer to notice him to he was a lawyer himself experiencing car problems to he was just another crazy guy answering to his quirk. obviously i can't say for certain what that scene was about, but can confess to simultaneously wanting to know more and wishing i'd never laid eyes on it. on a few occasions in the past, i've offered help to folks in those types of waters and can attest to the fact that they do often include an unrelenting and unexplainable chop.
on the good side, the exhibition made our last dad lunch more memorable than had we just experienced another round of hard-to-wait-for meat sandwiches.