There’s an old man who sells newspapers from a little shelter downtown. He’s there every weekday during the 5 p.m. rush hour, shivering in the cold or sweating under the sun. His eyes are sunken; his cheeks are hollow. He looks neither healthy nor happy. Lonely, silent, melancholy.
Half-sitting on the bench on which the newspapers are folded, he used to quietly wait for a passerby to buy a paper. When someone did (and this seemed rare), he would slowly hand him the paper, accept the coin, and quietly say, “Thank you.” But even a sale did not lift the burden from his slightly stooped shoulders, and his sad, withdrawn expression never changed.
Later, he seemed to realise that he had to compete with the more aggressive young newsboys, whose harsh cries of “Final Times — final Tribune” disturbed the already busy air. He too would say, “Tribune — Times,” but his voice was quiet and hesitant like a whisper, as though he did not think his new boldness would boost sales. He seemed to hold some small hope it would.
He is still there, in the same shelter. The same harassed executives brush by him. The same complaining assistants still hurry past him. Few stop to buy the paper; fewer still exchange a kind word. None wonder about the old man: his past, his present, his future, his end. As for him, he still looks blankly past the parade passing by; still waits for the few who might purchase a paper.
Copyright © Diane L. Schirf