The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Don’t Mess With

An anxious Austrian college boy wears a Texas t-shirt, tucked in, and one can see his belt up high on his ribs as he sits in a low café chair. A waiter draws close, but walks right by. The boy slips his computer quietly into a much-buckled-and-strapped backpack. He tries not to make any waves, any noise. Ready to go, he seems ready to disappear. He adjusts his gadgets and slides his chair back. He tests jingling the zipper of his jacket as he puts it on. Still, the waiter does not pause. The café is nearly empty and the waiter shows no malice, but the boy won’t speak up. He has to choose.

The boy unpockets some money, clinking his change, to draw attention, murmuring to himself quietly, then with a bit more volume as the waiter passes. Something weak about “zahlen?” and the waiter nods in his direction, but keeps walking the other way. As the boy shifts, the waiter hustles past again. The boy waits to exist. It seems clear that he could wait like a puddle all day long.

Out of pity, the waiter returns, kind and cheerful. For the first time, one can see they are both boys, both the same age. The waiter counts his the change, slaps the anxious boy on the shoulder in friendship. The waiter offers sage advice (in German), “Next time, say something!” The boy–very clearly not out of Texas–smiles at the slap, receives the acknowledgement, zips his bag and hurries to the tram under his freshly-earned command of the universe.

–Vienna Austria.
WIen, VIenna

One comment on “Don’t Mess With

  1. petchary
    February 12, 2013

    This is so sweet! Waiting to be acknowledged… I have seen young men like this and my heart goes out to them…

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