On my mornings walks with Enzo, I often encounter tired, weary males, seated on the benches of Washington Park. They’ve spent the night at the Drop Inn Center, which provides basic human services for women and men, and by seven or eight a.m., are expected to transition out of the Drop Inn, giving staff time to turn over the facility and ready for a new day or evening of occupants.
I’ve observed many of these faces on my newly begun walks with the dog and in doing so, I usually initiate, “Good morning,” hope for a response, then walk on. My son, a seventeen year old who has lived in suburbia most of his life, has told me, there is a street code for how to say, “Hello.” A nod of the head up implies, “What’s up,” and that one knows the other person. A nod of the head down means, “Hello,” but to a stranger.
I attempt this most mornings, but I don’t like looking down, as I feel like a chicken poking my head at feed all day, so I stick with, “Good Morning,” and even once, because my jaunts around OTR remind me so much of a European village, I said, “Bon Giorno,” and then laughed only to myself.
As the past weeks had been crammed full of activity with children and family and moves, a Friday arrived with son and husband off, and we had BIG plans to get a lot done that day. They began their BIG plans with a visit to Holtman’s Donuts. I waited outside with the dog.
While doing so, the long grew longer and pedestrians moving past the donut shop had a more difficult time of maneuvering around the donut goers. I occupied myself with people watching. After I concluded a conversation with a person from Kentucky, catching a bus in OTR to head to Cincinnati State, I glanced down Vine Street.
Three males, about twenty to twenty five years in age, were strolling towards me, each walking with backpacks or bags that indicated they had slept somewhere other than home the night before, probably The Drop.
In keeping with my custom, and having tossed out Davis’s suggestions, I uttered a simple, “Hi, how are you today,” and made eye contact with one in the middle, mainly because he was wearing a neon yellow shirt and that’s where my eye was drawn.
He looked back at me as he sauntered by, and I held my breath, wondering about his response.
“I’m blessed today,” he declared.
In the blink of an eye it occurred to me one can feel blessed without money for a home or donuts.
I fumbled around for the proper response. “Me too,” I shouted out after him.
He had already traversed the donut line, and on the other side of a line of people who had no idea what was transpiring in front of them, he gazed back at me and smiled.
The photo above is the sidewalk less traveled in Washington Park, looking south at the SCPA.