While smoking a cigarette outside this morning in front of the store, I had a conversation with a guy who was going to help Shawn, one of our warehouse employees, move some furniture around on the seven floors we have at Elgin.
“Man, I’m tired this morning,” he said looking at me as he took a puff on his cigarette.
He was maybe wearing three coats. His hair was long and black with some gray in it. He didn’t have any teeth and he needed a shave. He was maybe five feet tall.
“How long you been up?” I asked.
“Since four,” he replied.
“Makes for a long morning doesn’t it?” I said.
“I’ve been like this for the past 20 years, just get up at four.”
“You live here downtown?”
“No, I live over in Northside,” he said.
“You took the bus in?” I asked, stomping out my cigarette on the sidewalk.
“Nope, I walked.”
“What? You walked here today – to downtown – from Northside?”
“Well, hell, as I said, I get up at four.”
I laughed and looked at him like he was kidding. Clearly he wasn’t.
“What’s your name?” I asked extending my right hand to him.
“Everyone calls me Little Man; guess you can call me that too.”
“I’m Larry,” I said shaking his hand.
“Nice to meet ya, “he replied. “I’ve been working here on and off for 17 years, helping them move all that stuff they got around. Guess I’ve been doing something right. They always want me to come back.”
I didn’t see little man for the rest of the day. He was busy moving furniture, was going to stay until early evening.
When I left Elgin today, I couldn’t help but think of Little Man again and that long, cold walk he’ll have to get home to Northside tonight. I should have given him some money for the bus, but something tells me he wouldn’t have taken it.