Every day, or at least on the days I pass by, there’s a man that sits outside my local grocery store.
He sits in the same place, usually the same position, with a gray-muzzled dog laying by his feet. The man’s back is to the curb and his attention stays wistfully upon the front automatic door. Although his hair is greasy and his beard unkempt, he always has the most pleasant face. I don’t know his name, but in my mind I think of him as the Tesco Man – uncreatively named after his grocery store.
Tesco Man doesn’t seem to speak much unless spoken to. Other passers by approach him with seemingly no trouble, and Tesco Man’s dog is more than happy to receive a friendly pat or preferably a scratch behind the ears. On sunny days, the dog will sit with a recognizable doggy smile – on rainy days, the dog will huddle close to its master, and miserably eye passing feet. I don’t know the dog’s name, either. Its coat is dark and fairly sleek, but its muzzle is peppered with signs of age. Much like the beard of its master. In my mind, I call the dog simply “Mutt.”
Mutt and Tesco. I’m not sure what to make of them. On some days, exiting shoppers will quietly lay plastic bags with spare items at their feet. A friend of mine once wordlessly donated a few pences worth of dog food. I’ve thought of doing the same, but mostly as a way to start conversation with Tesco Man – who is he? What does he do? Where is he all day, when not keeping quiet vigil of the grocery store? Where does he live, sleep? What is his name?
I look at Tesco Man and silently remember my own blessings. Anyone can complain of personal trauma or financial instability – but I haven’t seen those complaints yet in Tesco Man. Even Mutt on its most miserable days seems to take it all in stride.
Perhaps someday soon I’ll spare a few items to Tesco Man, just to see whether I can set a few moments of his advice or wisdom aside.