I walked into the library this morning to a barrage of questions from the homeless-looking guy who is always here. Funny how prior to today I assumed he was homeless just because of how he looks, but today I see him wondering around with headphones and a portable CD player It’s no iPod, but it shamed my assumptions based on appearances. Not to say he isn’t homeless, he may well be, I just don’t know and should not have assumed.
His first question to me was, “Do you speak Portuguese or Spanish?” I told him that I spoke Spanish, so he said I looked Brazilian. He then asked if I was Mexican, I said, “No, I’m Puerto Rican.” ”Ponce?” he asked. I told him no, that I was raised here but my family was from Cayey, San Juan and Caguas. He then proceeded to tell me, in Spanish, how his Japanese use to be much better than his Spanish but he prefers Portuguese.
I wanted to ask him where he learned all of these languages, but he got up and has been wondering around the library since.
It’s his routine as seen from my eyes. He arrives to eyes staring up at him, then quickly looking back down silently saying, “please don’t choose my table.” It’s a reaction most would have, he does look like he carries the odor of weeks without bathing. His clothes look ragged and he’s missing his front teeth.
He throws everyone off with his polite, “May I sit here.” They awkwardly shuffle their belongings around to make room for him, while stuttering, “N n n no, no. Go ahead.”
He pulls his belongings from his bag and begins the wondering around part of his stay, occasionally sitting back down to write in his well-worn notebook.
I am fascinated by this man’s story, as I am by the story of almost everyone I see.