Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Invisible People on the Benches

   One week at the farmers market I noticed one of the invisible people. I don’t know what made me notice the man sitting behind the bushes where we set up our pop-up tent to sell cheese, but I did notice. He had a small two-wheeled cart filled with some worldly possessions, some cans and bottles, a sweatshirt, a baseball cap, a yellow hard hat and a walking stick. He sat there just soaking up the early morning sun to help mitigate the effects of the damp cool morning.

   I finished setting up the booth and talked to a few people, made a sale, then looked back to the bushes. The man was gone, he was invisible again.

   The following Saturday I was looking for the invisible man in the bushes. He wasn’t there, but as I was setting up I looked across the street and there I saw him walking toward the park. I recognized the yellow hard hat. I continued to set up and when I looked up I saw another of the invisible people sitting on the bench across from our spot. This time it was a woman holding an insulated coffee mug. She had a cart also. Her cart contained a collection of items all stacked and wrapped in plastic bags. It was hard to differentiate the many shapes  but everything was all wrapped up to protect them from the elements.

   After that I started looking for the invisible people. I started to notice more and more of them each week. They started to become regular fixtures and started to lose their invisibility. Some moved around searching the trash cans for cans and bottles. Others staked out a small plot of turf in an out-of the way part of the park  or on a little used bench. I started to see the same people each week and even knew where to look to possibly find a particular person.

   There was a older African American man who always sat on the bench diagonally across from our space. He always showed up about an hour and a half after the market started and always came from the direction of the railroad yard. He also pushed a two wheeled cart and in his cart was a sweater, a bottle of water and a few books. I think he picked that bench because of its proximity to the weekly entertainment that the market usually provided. He seemed to enjoy the music although he never talked to anyone and seldom looked up. He wore a pair of worn black leather shoes and that’s were he eyes always seemed to be focused.

   This particular Saturday as he was sitting there looking down at his shoes as a woman walked by leading a dog on a leash. It was a slow day and I was just sort of people watching. He noticed the dog and came to life.

   “Can I pet you’re dog?,” he blurted out.

Looking a little startled she said , “ I guess it would be okay.,” and she hesitantly moved towards him.

   “He’s a beautiful dog,” he said, “Is he registered?”

   “Yes,” she replied.

   “Black and Tan Coonhound,” he continued, “that’s my favorite breed of dog.”

   Then he proceeded to talk at length about the breed and their characteristics. He talked to the woman for quite a while all the time slowly petting the dog. He thanked the woman, gave the dog a final pat on the shoulder and she continued on her way making the rounds at the market.

   After she was well out of sight I went back  to paying attention to my own affairs when I heard someone crying uncontrollably. I looked over and the  elderly black man was sobbing .

   He noticed me looking over at him and said ,“I haven’t touched a Black and Tan since I was ten years old,” then went back to looking down at his shoes.

   He was no longer invisible.


  1. Beautiful story Charlie!! I wrote a couple of pointedly thought provoking ones yesterday and today too, The Shack and Just A Little Child; when you get a chance, stop by and check them out. As a society, we are woefully lacking in compassion these days, sadly. Blessings, Terri

  2. This is so beautiful, and a reminder to look properly at the people around us. I've often felt like an invisible person (I have a disability), and it's a wonderful moment when a complete stranger talks to you when they don't have to.

  3. amazing story, wow.

    it is like magic in the end.
    we do need to protect ourselves.

  4. A truly though provoking post. A most difficult time for many.

  5. A great story..We don't see because we don't look...there are so many around us that need our smile...our recognition...our time...

  6. Wonderfully told story, Charlie. A great message, too!

  7. Too many invisible people around these days, and far too many people taking the limelight who don't deserve to be there - celebrities and politicians to name just two. Great write.

  8. a perfect fantasy,
    very well written.

  9. You've caught something beside the man here. K.

  10. I love this story, so heart-wrenching in it's reality. So many stories around us like this if we only open our eyes. Nicely penned, my friend.