I like to take walks at lunch. It’s nice to get out of the cubicle, away from my phone that never stops ringing and crowded inbox. It gives me some time to think.
I’m mostly left alone; although I get hit up for change a lot. I vary the route, sometimes traversing over the Roebling suspension bridge and around the Ascent.
That’s the route I chose today. I was deep in thought when I reached the Kentucky side of the river, and saw a disheveled looking man smoking a large, hand rolled cigarette standing by a lightpost with two duffel bags. I had the busy road to my left, and a sharp drop off to the river to my right. I couldn’t avoid him.
Steeling myself to utter my often repeated line “Sorry, man, I don’t have any cash.” I began to walk towards him. He looked up and saw me, beginning to dig in one of the various plastic bags by his duffels.
I had no idea what he was doing. Was he looking for another cigarette? Was he going to try and pull the bag over my head and cart me off to a desolate location? I hoped he didn’t have poop in the bag. That would be unpleasant.
I was totally unprepared for what came next. It was none of those things.
He pulled out a dollar and held it out to me. “Here.”
I stopped and backed up a step. “I can’t take that.”
My brain was not processing the situation. My hand took the dollar. I tried to hand it back.
“Are you sure you don’t need it?”
“Nope. I’m always thinking about you. Go get yourself a pop.”
The whole situation was really odd. Someone who I perceived to be homeless, giving me a dollar. And then there was the whole thinking-about-you thing. I don't remember ever seeing this person before. What was that supposed to mean?
Those thoughts spinning around in my head, I tucked the dollar in my pocket and continued walking around the Ascent. It took me less than a minute to get back to the lightpost.
The man and his duffel bags were gone. I looked all around for five minutes, but I couldn’t find him. I checked my pocket. Had I been hallucinating? No. The dollar was still sitting in my pocket, making no sense.
I walked back to work thinking about a lot of things. Why did he give me the dollar? Who was he? And where did he disappear to? Am I supposed to get something out of this? What should I do with this dollar?
I really don’t know what to do with the dollar. The whole situation was really strange, so I feel kind of like I should do something special with it. Should I make a dollar donation to a charity or pay it forward somehow? Give it to someone sitting on the street corner? Buy the suggested soda?
For now, it’s just sitting on my desk. I keep giving it strange looks. What do you think I should do with this mysterious dollar?