Sitting in a downtown sub shop. A half dozen 40yo dudes — boots & jeans & beards & tattoos — pile in, trash-talking each other.
“I don’t wanna sit next to *that* retard!” says a guy in a knit cap. “You gotta pick your ‘tards!”
I take a deep breath.
Guy listens. His body language changes.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he says. “I know someone, too.”
There’s a pause, and the moment passes.
I remove one earbud and catch Greatbeard’s eye. “That was cool,” I say. “You were a good friend.”
From the clan, thoughtful chewing.
“Yeah, I gotta be more aware of my surroundings,” sighs Guy. “Like if I wanna call him *dickhead.*”
Greatbeard inclines his head, solemn and proud.
20m later, the dudes are getting ready to go.
Greatbeard strides over for a handshake. “Thanks for being patient with us.”
Guy McKnitcap is next. While we shake, he lifts his other hand, showing me a cane.
The boots and jeans and beards and tattoos leave together.