He came upon me from behind and to the right. Without breaking stride, he said, ”OK, now the light will change in one second.” The cross traffic came to a halt and I fell in next to him.
“Thank you,” I said. “Sometimes there’s just too much guesswork.”
“Not with me there’s no guesswork,” he replied. “I am the number one man in America.”
I had been out alone that day. Alone and fearful. The fog that is my visual field has thickened. Last month’s bad vision day has turned chronic. My white cane helps, but does not guide like my dog, Randy. But not even Randy helps me cross the street, and I had reached that really tough intersection and I was afraid to cross.
“You’re the number one man in America,” I echoed.
And he said, “I can make the lights change.”
I meet all sorts of folks out and about. Most want to pet Randy. And why not? White canes elicit more stares than conversation. This man was the exception. His accent was from a place I’ve never been. Wherever he came from, today he was at the right place at the right time.
People who offer help often linger. Some get too friendly too fast. Or too close or curious for comfort. They’ll shadow you all the way home if you let them. Or, at least lead you down the next block, then veer off with a wave goodbye.
But this fellow just faded out of sight. Right in the middle of crossing Ashland Avenue. Now, I’m accustomed to people just fading out of sight. It happens all the time. But this guy left no trace. No footfalls, no scent, no shadow against the setting sun. I reach the safety of the opposite curb. I look around and see no one.