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Snapshots of Life in the City

"He Looks Scarier Than He Is"

I walked to a nearby jewelry store with the simple goal of getting a watch battery replaced. The workers keep the door locked and there is a sign saying you should knock on the door.
There is no electronic means to let people in. You just wait until someone brings the key and lets you in. And then as you leave they have to unlock the door again to let you out and then lock it behind you when you are on the street.  
Lots of quaint steps in that security system.
As I waited inside the store for the battery to be changed, a short, extremely skinny man in rag-tag clothes appeared in the glass door outside. He was waving awkwardly but excitedly, and he seemed to be talking while smiling from ear to ear. Surprisingly, one of the store workers took the key and went outside to talk with him.
"Poor guy," I said when the worker came back inside. "Nice of you to go out to talk to him."
"He's harmless. He's been on our street for over 15 years now.  He looks scarier than he is."
"It's amazing that he has lived this long on the streets – it is such a tough life."
"Oh, he has people all along this street who have adopted him. We watch out for him. His name is 'Howard.'"
As I left the store, he unlocked the door for me, and pointed to the street. "See that car? The guy who owns it gives Howard a lot of resources so he's OK."  (The car looked expensive.) 
"I'm glad people have adopted him – it's really terrific. One day, I hope someone might adopt me if I need it," I said.
We smiled at each other and I walked out onto the street. I heard the lock click behind me but I didn't walk away. I stood a short while and looked up and down the street but Howard was nowhere to be seen.
I'll remember Howard's name and watch for him when I happen to be on that street in the future. I'd like to greet him properly and ask him how he's doing.

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