Alcohol?

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Tobacco?

Pills?

Shopping?

Exotic Vacations?

Nope. None of the above.

Answer: Two Umbrellas.

I was walking to the store.

It was raining like the devil.

A fellow came up to me begging for money, “for the bus” he said.

I was in a quick stride. Backpack on. Umbrella overhead.

I simultaneously motioned and uttered, “Sorry—Don’t have…”

He seemed ready for my negative reply.

—He walked away and said, “K”.

As he walked away, he pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head to deflect the rain.

I wondered, “Who is this man?”

“Why is he walking in the rain begging for money?”

Then I remembered it.

I had a second umbrella in my backpack.

It was only a 99-cent umbrella that Sue and I bought years ago.

I ran back to the gent.

He turned back as he heard my steps. He turned with an anticipatory expression.

I imagined him thinking, “Oh, so you do have some money to give me after all”.

But I wasn’t offering him money.

I imagined him responding with yet another disappointed expression.

I reached into my bag… found the umbrella — and tossed it in his direction. I said, “This might not get you on the bus—but at least it will keep you dry”.

The adrenaline of a human encounter caused me to “over-throw” the umbrella a bit. I feared it would hit him in the face. But it didn’t. It landed high on his chest—and he caught it, one-handed, like a receiver would catch a football.

Then I witnessed a smile—as big as Cleveland Heights.

He said, “God bless you man…”

As he walked a way, he giggled, joyfully.

I went on to my evening.  Made a stop and…

Did some calendar updates for the week.

Wrote a blog post.

Answered an email or two.

…Then I continued to the store for some groceries for dinner.

I left the store—and began to walk back home.

The weather was even worse: Mid-40′s and a sleet-rain that chills one to the bone.

Ironically, I encountered an abandoned folded umbrella lying in the middle of the sidewalk.

It was bright pink. Full of life. Unlike the one I gave to the gentle-man.

Others had stepped over this lonely bumbershoot.

In my quick stride, I walked right past it, too.

But then, I turned back… and picked it up.

Why was this umbrella just lying there on the sidewalk?

“It must be meant for someone”, I thought… ”It’s freezing and wet out here!”

Moments later, there was a young woman walking toward me. She had a piece of plastic over her head. She was hunched over, as we all do, attempting to deflect raindrops.

As she approached, I enthusiastically extended the found-folded umbrella toward her. One could have mistaken it for a weapon. But no, she didn’t. She glanced up from her plastic protection—and looked me deep in the eye—openly.

I said, “Hi, I just found this…” and handed her the umbrella.

She looked at me, in disbelief… and said, “Why, thank you…”

As she continued on—and I went in the other direction… I  heard her softly say  to herself, “Wow”.

Now I was the one giggling.

_______

Thank you Ralph Solonitz for this response:

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2 Responses to The Best Drug of All…

  1. Thank you, Ralph Solonitz, for your visual response to the story :) Have included it at the bottom of the post, above…

  2. Love one reader’s take:

    “…This reminds me to give what I have, even if it is different than what is asked of me.

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