bio_dave_hingsburgerYesterday we went, again, to the patio where we like to have a tea. It was another lovely warm October afternoon. I spotted a table with a chair, empty and waiting for me. I scooted ahead and pulled in beside the table. Joe had asked me to go on ahead because he wanted to pop into a shop and pick up a copy of that day’s Star. He’s addicted to their crossword puzzles and, overall, it’s a pretty good newspaper. I obliged him and sat watching for him to come. There are only two tables on the patio, an absurdly low number for the space and they are in high demand, I was pleased with having got one so easily.

Toronto is a friendlier city that people give it credit for and I wasn’t surprised when a fellow, with a hot cup of coffee came by and asked me if he could use the chair beside me. I told him that he could but that I was waiting for someone. He said, “Oh, I thought you were alone.” I said, “No, as much as it surprises me to say this, I’m not alone.” He looked at me quizzically, I continued, “When I was younger I thought I’d always be alone that no-one would love me, and I was thinking when you came by about that.”

Then I realized.

“Sorry,” I said, “that’s way too much information. I was just caught off guard by what you said.”

He nodded. “I am the opposite, I was popular in high school, had my pick of girls, everyone liked me. I thought I’d never be alone. Funny how life turns out.” In that moment there was such sadness at the table. He got up and said, “I’m glad for you. I’m glad you surprised yourself and probably a lot of other people.”

I didn’t know what to say back to him. Anything that came to mind was too cliche and too trite for the sadness he felt. I just truly wished him well.

Then I saw Joe across the street, smiling at me, heading over for tea.