Finished up our one-day staycation in Portland by meeting a man of good name who wanted a lobster.
As I ran around the Willamette river through downtown Portland again this morning, I watched the homeless people and travelers pack their bags and start moving along after sleeping in the park. There were quite a few folks, some with bicycles, some just with a bag or two, some sitting on a bench smoking, some talking, and many just staring.
I thought I might be able to help someone with the fast food card in my pocket but seeing so many homeless people, I was not sure what to do. Eventually, I came across an old man with a sign, “Want lobster, but will take a burger.”
I found myself smiling so I stopped running and walked up to the man as he sat hunched on a cement wall, cigarette dangling, and wearing a “Jesus, One Way” baseball cap. His orange bags appeared well cared for and neatly organized.
I handed him the McDonald’s card from my pocket. I said it was not lobster and he kind of smiled as he puffed at the dregs of his cigarette. I asked his name. He replied, “Eric.” I chuckled again and told him my name was Eric also.
At that he stopped puffing his cigarette, looked up and put out his hand. Eric said he was from Wyoming and had been here a week. He said he was looking for ranch work, either cattle or horses, but no one was hiring. Noticing his age and where he sat, I asked how he got to downtown Portland where there is not a ranch in site. He mumbled something vague and said he hoped to find work, the good Lord willing. Trailing off, he did not seem much in the mood to talk further. I wished him a good day and walked away. He thanked me kindly as I resumed my run.
Several hours later, this time with family in tow, I passed Eric again. He was still sitting in the same spot, bags unmoved, a cigarette dangling from his fingers.
I wondered where Eric will go. I wondered what his situation has been his many years on this earth. I wondered if he did ranch work in the past. I wondered what he thinks about. I wondered if he will use the card to get a burger.
I wonder if he will eat lobster anytime soon.