Terry

I made a new friend recently.

Our relationship precedes this present level and understanding for at least a year, and maybe even two. I’ve seen Terry come and go from my usual Freedom of Espresso hangout in Franklin Square. He’s seen me before, too. As time went on, he began greeting me, waving and smiling; I reciprocated.

We’ve been each other’s “that guy” from a distance.

The interaction evolved to his giving me a pat on the shoulder. He’d walk over, smile, take my arm and fix it as if I was flexing — my pea shooter of an arm — and he’d check if the muscle was firm. He wouldn’t say much to me, he’d laugh though, give me a thumbs up.

The other day we finally had a conversation. Where’s your tie? He asked me. I always see you wearing a tie. Why would you wear that around your neck? It could kill you. His words are always dressed in black lettering on his translator. It helps showcase his humor.

I typed back that I wear ties for fashion statements, to make people think I’m more professional than in truth. He laughed.

The translator is much better than the piece of laminated paper that he used to use. He’d place it on the counter, point out letters to the barista. Needless to say, this piece of technology is doing him well.

The next time I have more time, I’ll probably sit with him and type out a conversation. Work had to get done.

I’m curious what the census of people think of him, when they see him. Sometimes Terry has a cart. Sometimes he has a walker. He is always wearing a smile.

It wouldn’t be right to assume everyone thinks negatively of him; it’s also not right if people, in fact, do think negatively of him. All of us have seen, experienced, or heard of bullying based on perception.

He’s deaf, I learned, and born that way from birth. It’s clear he can read lips. His physical movements are slow, but his mind is churning quickly. He even corrected my typing; I didn’t hit the “shift key” properly, so my question mark appeared as a backslash.

He enjoys living in the city. The place that he used to live closed, which he said makes him sad, but now his residence is close by. In the winter he makes the trek, decked out in warm clothing. I don’t have to worry about him in that regard.

Over the past months, I’ve looked forward to running into him even when I didn’t “know” him. Now that we’ve formally met, I look forward to running into him in the future. It seems validated. Of course, now I’m going to keep him in my thoughts with hope he’s doing well. There will even be worry the times I don’t see him. His schedule at Freedom varies, but it’s usually a daily thing.

You can usually find him reading the paper. So he likes to read. I’ll have to give him a book — something good, something to cut down my excess.

I didn’t see him leave; I was focused on my temperamental laptop.But I did look up to see him in his SU T-shirt, walking by with his walker. He did pick his head up — looked to his right, over at the corner window of the cafe.

I think he saw me wave.

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