Ahmed walked down the street in uptown. The steel and glass canyon caused the cold afternoon breeze to cut through his blazer and straight into his chest. He passed by people who gazed at him with an admiring eye. “How ironic,” he thought. If they only knew how miserable he was. He was a true introvert. He hated being subjected to the crowds in the streets, leading meetings with people packed into small boardrooms, and having to attend business parties with nobody he knew. People looked at him was an admiring gaze. Their envy was plainly showing on their faces.
Ahmed turned left to a familiar breezeway and into the quiet plaza where he often found solace. Sitting down at an empty table, he caught his breath and could feel his body relaxing. Ahmed closed his eyes and let the sun warm his cold face. A chair slid from the other side of the table, and he opened his eyes. Before him sat a man in dirty clothes, a worn overcoat and desperate need of a shower. The stranger smiled and stuck out his hand.
“Hi. I’m George, sorry if I disturbed you. I just needed to sit a spell.”
“I’m Ahmed. You know George, there are lots of other tables. I don’t want to offend you, but I came here to be alone for a few minutes.”
“Isn’t that a coincidence I used to come here to be alone too.”
“I take it you have been alone a lot.”
“No, just the last few years. I used to look just like you. I hated it. I bet you do too. You don’t have to answer, I can see it in your face. Well, I got tired of everything, and I’ve been living like this ever since.”
“You didn’t have a family?”
“I used to. I quit working and walked out; my wife filed for divorce. It took the papers awhile to find me. I do miss the kids, but at least I’m left alone.”
“You know George; I think you sitting down here is a little more than coincidence. If you don’t mind, I need to head out and get back to work.”
“That’s the spirit. Before you go, any chance you can give a fella a couple of bucks for his advice?”
Ahmed pulled out a twenty and handed it to George. They shook hands, and Ahmed left his table determined never to hide there again.