I was sitting alone in my favourite daytime café today half daydreaming and half listening to an over loud monologue (I originally typed nonologue lol) by one of the patrons (an overeducated older white male blowbag) reminiscent of the lobby scene in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall where a man in line is spewing off theories about Marshall McLuhan and Woody calls him out and the guy says he teaches a course on McLuhan and Woody brings Marshall McLuhan into the scene and McLuhan completely refutes and debases the professor. “If life were only like that” said Woody. This story is not about him, the patronizing patron.

As I was daydreaming/eavesdropping, a large man in a large, worn winter coat walked into my field of vision and sat in front of the window I was staring out. As he arranged his posture he looked directly at me and said “Hi!” in a booming and overly loud for the space voice. I mumbled “hi” back and went back to thinking and waiting for my double espresso to cool down and also waiting for my phone to ring as I was killing time while Sharon was at the vet’s. Not for herself, of course, but one of the birds had her “annual” bank account draining check up.

The man was quite unusual looking. He looked perhaps like an Australian aboriginal man with curly tousled hair and a scruffy beard and missing a few teeth. He had kind, intelligent eyes and looked like he spent a great deal of time outdoors. I am pretty sure most people’s snap judgement of him if they met him on the street would be that he was homeless and to avoid him or brace themselves for a demand for alms because his size and appearance could be considered daunting.

As I pondered his greeting, I thought that maybe he thought I was staring at him and was offended and that is why he said “Hi”so loudly like it might have been a “Here I am… Want a picture?!?” but there had been no trace of sarcasm in the monosyllabic greeting, just volume. I know many people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder who sometimes use their “outside voice” inside, but this did not seem to be the case either.

I soon got my text to pick up Sharon and the bird, so I quickly downed my defibrillator espresso in one gulp and got up and put my coat on. As I approached the table where the man who had greeted me was sitting I said to him “I am sorry if you thought I was staring at you, your greeting surprised me and I was unsure if it was a friendly conversation starter or if I had offended you.” He was most affable and assured me that he was just being friendly and he thanked me for approaching him to be understood clearly.

I felt mildly ashamed at my train of thought and wished I had had more time to engage this gentleman in a proper conversation. He looked wise and kind, his life full and his stories most assuredly would have been better than the one I had involuntarily been listening to before.

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