I saw them at the mall.

So did everyone else.

He was tall and strong. His tight tee shirt emphasized his lean, strong, torso. He obviously took care of himself, he obviously thought that mattered. He obviously wanted others to notice. His tight tee, stretched across his muscular chest and his arms bulging against the restraint of his shirt, told us that.

Beside him and a little behind.

Walked a man with a disability.

Physical and intellectual disabilities in fact. He walked in such a way that his knees constantly got in each other’s way. But with will and determination he was fighting to keep up with his staff. Unlike his staff he did not wear a tight tee shirt, he wore, instead, a bulky coat and jeans. He was sweating with the effort of keeping up with a staff who walked just a little bit too fast.

He was on his phone.

The whole time I saw them.

Never looking up.

Never looking back.

Not once did he speak to the man with him – the man behind him.

The man walking behind him.

The man struggling to keep up.

At one point he laughs at something he sees on his phone.

He is connected. He is wired in to his friends. He has a life beyond where he is now, a life different from what he’s doing now. It’s clear that his world is much bigger than this place. It’s clear that those relationships are much more important than the man, walking a little too fast, sweating with the effort, who walked behind him.

He looked so alone.

Walking quickly behind a man in a tight tee.

He looked so lost.

Following steps taken too quickly.

Everyone watching had a choice in what they thought about what they saw. Did they see a staff who didn’t care. Or did they see a man not worth caring about? That this is a legitimate question frightens me, but I know it is.

He cares about himself, he shows that. His body is toned and there’s a gym somewhere who’s equipment is being worn out by this man. I guess he think that’s important.

His body is strong.

His heart, not so much.

Not so much at all.

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