I had to go to Wal-Mart today; not my most favorite thing to do. But, my wife and I both have a sinus infection/cold/whatever and the only thing to take care of it is the Advil Cold and Sinus medicine that is now only sold with proof of driver’s license or state ID card and is only available per individual once every 30 days. (This is the version with the original pseudoephedrine made popular by “meth addicts” and Walter White fans everywhere.)
When I got to the Pharmacy, I found all the windows shut down. They were closed. On a Saturday. At 1:30 in the afternoon. Whose brilliant idea was this? Then, I saw the sign informing me that “when only one pharmacist is on duty the pharmacy will close between 1:30PM and 2:00PM to allow the pharmacist to go to lunch”
Okay, okay, I’m not having a good day.
And then everything changed
As I sat on a bench in front of the pharmacy window, playing on my phone and thinking about the longest half-hour ahead of me; an elderly African-American gentleman and his grown nephew approached the bench. The nephew asks the uncle if he wants to go with him to some other department and the gentleman said no, that he would wait here.
Hearing them speak, I looked up and slid over on the bench to allow the gentleman to sit down. He thanked me and shook my hand and introduced himself as he sat down beside me.
Now I only mentioned his ethnicity because he told me his name was “Dred”. I immediately thought “Dred Scot” because I was reading an article on my phone about the upcoming confirmation of Brett Kavanagh as a new Supreme Court Justice. (and anticipating and agonizing over possible similar decisions that this Justice could inflict upon the country) But, I digress.
“My name is Dred. How ya doin’ this afternoon?
“Just fine” (I lied) “I’m Dave”
“Nice to meet ya, Mr. Dave”
“It’s a pleasure, Mr. Dred”
And for the next 25 minutes we talked. No. We had a conversation.
I found out about him and his nephew. He has one grown son. He retired as a groundskeeper at the University of South Alabama; although he is a University of Alabama Crimson Tide football fan. (He did threaten to get up, when I told him, I was from Mississippi and a die-hard Ole Miss fan)
He wanted to know how I came to move to the Gulf Coast. He asked about my family. He asked about my job.
And we talked about “old times”. We talked about growing up and growing older. He was concerned about why kids resort to violence to settle disputes these days. The worst violence “we” committed as kids had to be an “outta-controlled wrestling/wild swinging of fists” incident that lasted five minutes and then all was forgiven, and regular “play” resumed. There was no need for stabbing or shooting.
He said he prayed for “kids these days”. He didn’t think we, as a people; or as a nation; did enough for our “kids”. And “parents these days” need to do more.
I assured him, that there were still good people out there and that I’m sure he has done his part over the course of his life. He assured me that he felt the same about me.
The pharmacy windows opened up and I excused myself from “Mr. Dred” and went to purchase my needed medication.
As I was leaving, I stopped back by the bench and re-shook Mr. Dred’s hand and told him that it was pleasure indeed to meet him and that he made “the wait” enjoyable and that I could not have asked for better company.
He thanked me and told me something similar and that he would think about me and pray for my family. He hoped that we would see each other some time again.
I am most certain that he will be praying for me.
If I never see him again, that would be a shame, but experiencing him for just 25 minutes made a huge difference in my day.
The world needs more “Mr. Dreds”, and I hope I can be, or have been one to someone else in my time on this earth. If not, that needs to be a thing that I work on.
Thank you for talking to me, Mr. Dred.