Something I Didn’t Like
Shawn and Ray and I were talking, and a fairly young man with a pronounced limp and a cane was perhaps five paces from my tent, looking longingly at the chair as he walked. Though I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, there was something I didn’t like about the man, even from that distance. But I had to keep my bottom line in mind, so asked if he’d like a sample massage so he could judge my work, yada, yada, yada and told him how much I charged.
He sat down in the chair and told me he’d had a car accident and broken his back, so I’d have to be really careful. Normally, he would have had my full sympathy because back problems can be extremely painful and debilitating. But he spent the entire time I worked giving me this huge sob story about how mean his mother and physical therapists and doctors were to him, etc. etc in this extremely whiny voice. It was real obvious to me that this was a play for sympathy, and I suspected he did it to everybody he met. I think he was trying to make me feel guilty about charging this poor handicapped victim, and was hoping I’d drop the fee.
In fact, he started walking off without paying me while I was distracted with cleaning the chair. He was right in front of Shawn and Ray when I tapped him on the shoulder and told him he owed me five dollars. He whined that he didn’t think he had to, that he thought the massage was free. At this point, both Shawn and Ray kind of surrounded him, and smiled this very dangerous smile. The guy took the hint that he’d be “invited” to a blanket party if he didn’t pay up, so made this big elaborate show of counting out five dollars, hoping, I’m sure, that I’d tell him not to worry about it, or at least only charge him a few bucks. Nope, with that little act, I wanted my full five; in fact, I wanted closer to fifteen; my tip, you know.
After he crawled away, Shawn and Ray made their own big elaborate show of flexing their muscles and cracking their knuckles and jabbing right hooks into the air, saying, “You don’t wanna pay her, we’ll take it out of your hide, boy!” Actually, I think I could have taken him myself if I’d wanted to, but it was nice to know I had friends who would watch my back for me.
I’d never experienced that degree of friendship from so many people, especially in such a short amount of time; not from the Air Force, not from any job I’d had, not even from any of the churches I’d attended over the years. Made me want to find a better housing and heating arrangement and move in permanently. If I had a decent bed and a shower that was a little closer, I think I could live like a gypsy if I got to keep all my friends.
Dear Readers: I'm curious; how many of you have experienced this phenomenon of finding a ton of loyal friends in one place? Do me a favor; pop onto comments and tell me about it. That sort of story always makes me feel good.