Every morning I walk by someone. He is one of the strangest people I have ever seen. He doesn't seem real. He sits on the same corner, in exactly the same position - on a blue crate and he leans against the beam of the streetlight. He holds a cardboard sign at his feet. "I had polio. I'm hungry. Please help." His legs are tangled. He is albino. He squints and presses a newspaper almost to his eyes and reads. He wears running shoes and a baseball cap that always look soggy. He is bony and tall. I work on maybe the most affluent road of all - Park Avenue. No one who walks on this road wants to look at him. Everyone tries not to. Me too. Sometimes, I even find myself crossing at a different intersection to avoid him. It is a confession that makes me wince - deeply. But I end up thinking about him a lot.
This morning. I approach the corner. The buildings almost bend at the top they are so tall. I see a group of accumulated people occupying the sidewalk space right next to him, waiting for the light to change colors. There are two lower forms - shaggy and blonde. Dogs. They look without any aversion. Tongues out, ardent. Straight at him and he reaches out. He is beaming as he pets them. He is suddenly not at all strange and very real. The purple tie looks down at his dogs, jangles the leash and kicks at them to move away. The green-go disencumbers him and the tie cuts in front of other people to flee. He commands the dogs to obey. They gaze back - tongues out. I watch the man sitting there on the crate, who just keeps grinning wonderment, even delight, about those dogs. I keep walking. And I keep wondering who he is and who I am in relation to him.