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missed connection

my missed connection yesterday:

while shopping for eggs and tikka masala sauce at shaw’s last night, i saw an old man in the pie section. he was tall and a blue cotton denim jacket covered what i could tell used to be broad shoulders; he must have been very strong as a young man. his face had aged well also: it was still rugged and bony. he looked a little like jack palance.

covering his thick white hair was a blue cap. written on it in bright yellow stitching was “uss lionfish” – below that were the years the boat was in commission. i didn’t get a good look at them.

i hadn’t seen a hat like that in years. my grandfather, lolo nick (filipino for “grandpa nick”) used to wear a hat just like it.  as he began to walk away, i realized that i really wanted to tell the old man:

“excuse me sir, you wear a hat just like my grandfather used to wear.”

lolo nick died last year and outside of my immediate family, i hadn’t really spoken about it with anyone, partially because he was a funny character who was a bit hard to explain. a lot of his stories though, revolved around his 30 (or was it 40?) years spent as a cook in the merchant marine service.

in any case, i suddenly thought that this complete stranger would understand everything.  it’d be like talking to my grandfather again.
i tried thinking of all the ways i could gain his attention. it being veterans day, i suppose i could have just walked right up to him and said “thank you.”
but i’m too shy to do something like that. i just tried standing next to him, hoping we’d make eye contact. when that failed, i tried waiting for him near the checkout registers – people love to small-talk while the cashier-cog slowly turns. i even waited a bit for him outside of the store – i often see old people walking home with their groceries. i could give him a lift.

instead, i saw him last as i pulled out of the parking lot. he finally appeared in the checkout line as i drove past the supermarket.

i’m still really disappointed i never said hello to him.  this always happens – i over-analyze stuff too much during the moment and miss out.

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