I was walking down an alleyway & a stranger asked me, "Hey, do you know what events are going on today? There’s a lot of people out here." As I pulled out my phone to check, he went on about how he likes to stay informed so that he can stay out of the way from parents & their kids so that they don’t feel uncomfortable. That consideration of his led to a short discussion about respect for others & how most people are often bothered by the homeless that constantly roam the area.
After talking some more & shaking hands, he pointed at my wrist & said "I’ve got the same one too!" I didn’t know what he was talking about exactly until he pulled out a similar bracelet from the bottom of his backpack. He handed it to me & after I returned it to him, he held it out in the palm of his hand. We smiled & exchanged names before saying our goodbyes.
As I continued to walk, my mind was telling me that there was more to discuss with Albert. After getting about a half block away, I ran back & told him that I needed to document this memory simply for the sake of having an image to go along with it.
Shortly after the picture was taken, he began to share his near-death experience last summer that occurred just on the opposite side of the building he was currently facing, at Rodney’s Cigar & Liquor Store. After getting shot twice, he realized that the bullets had hit one of the straps of his backpack, which was a gift from a family he voluntarily cleaned for. "In a way, that backpack saved my life," said Albert. Tears started to form in his eyes & his voice started to shake as he pointed in the direction of where he went to lie down after the incident. "I thought I was going to make it so I walked down the street to lay in the shade. I passed out & woke up with a bunch of tubes in me."
We talked a little more, exchanged some more heartfelt smiles & then said goodbye once again.
“Alright, Arizona, have a good one!"
Thank you, Albert for opening up to me despite saying you don’t usually talk much with others. You made my day & this interaction unforgettable. There is a reason why you are still here with us. And there is a reason why we crossed paths on that particular morning. //