A decade ago, I took a job at a college in my old home town. Shortly after my duties started there, I was walking to the library, across the street from the administration building where my office was located. An older gentleman with a raspy voice stopped me, introduced himself and started a conversation that went on so long that we sat down on a bench in front of the library.
“I used to live over on Fifth Street when I was a kid,” I told him.
“Did you sure enough? I lived across the way behind Charlie Murphy’s house.”
“Really? Did you know Modine Edwards?”
“Modine? Yes, I certainly did. She was a fine woman. She passed a few years ago. Good while ago.”
“Yes, she took care of my brother and me while my mother worked at the bank.”
“Well, you got some good upbringing if Modine had anything to do with it.”
“You are right about that. You know, I learned to swim in Charlie Murphy’s pool.”
“Did you sure enough? I used to cut Charlie Murphy’s grass down there around that pool. You might have seen me way back then.”
And so the conversation went. I vaguely remember a young man that used to mow Charlie Murphy’s grass, and I assumed that was the guy.
A few mornings later, I was in my office and my secretary came in and said there was a man there to see me. It was my new acquaintance. I was working on a pressing report at the time, but had her send him in.
He sat down and began a long stream-of-consciousness diatribe that became more and more bizarre as he talked. It had something to do with a previous co-vivant, a law suit, a difficulty with bill payment. He began to quiz me about local attorneys, which ones I would recommend. I told him I didn’t know anything about lawyers in the area and hoped I never needed one. It was then he said in a loud rasp, “I want some ham and eggs.”
I didn’t know how to respond. Should I make a joke of it and say, I just happen to have some ham and eggs here in my drawer? Should I offer to take him to breakfast? How should I handle the situation? So, I started to act busy, which I should have been anyway, looking down at my report and scribbling something.”
“I want some ham and eggs,” he said louder.
“Well, sir. I want you to have a great breakfast over at the place that used to be Woody’s across the street.” I stood up and walked to the door.
“I want some ham and eggs,” he said, as he walked out. I hope he got some.
Daniel G. Ford, Ph. D.