So I saw a guy pick up a $5 bill today. Shyly, he looked around to make sure Ashton Sploocher wasn’t lurking behind the park bench waiting for a hearty laugh. I had been walking down the sidewalk and noticed this guy about a block in front of me, kind of loitering, floating just off the sidewalk. I thought he was a newly-recruited homeless guy or something, seeing his suspicious sideways glances. As I got closer I saw that he was, what appeared to be, a college student–I only assume that because he was about nineteen, Asian and had a backpack on–and a meek one at that. But what struck me the most was his body language.
As I got closer, I see the kid looking warily to his left and right. He reaches down and touches the bill, looks around again, flips it over while it’s still sitting on the ground, takes another few glances, then finally picks it up. Once he reaches his full standing apex, he starts to inspect it again, turning it over. By this time I am about 8 or 10 feet away from him and I notice a few other people around him, completely unaware to what is happening, but he knows these people are there, which causes him to become more sheepish with his movements.
I think about this guy’s weird behavior of picking up the bill and give the guy the benefit of the doubt; maybe he saw the person drop it and is going to return their measly 5 spot, or maybe he saw the person who dropped it and and knew he wasn’t going to return it–a more likely scenario. But then a stray thought pops into my head: what if he is deciding to give this lucky find to a bum pan-handling down by McDonald’s. Nope.
As I walk by him I try to make eye contact to let him know that I saw him, and to share my reaction with him–approval, I think. He never looks me squarely in the eye in time. As I am parallel with him I let out a, “way to go man,” and continue by, still looking at him. I don’t know what his thoughts were, nor will I. All I got in return was a grunt. I don’t even think there was a differentiating syllable in it. And with hearing his urrgh I passed on by.