June 14, 2017 HeSpeaksVolumes

Stranger Named Al

I met a stranger named Al one day at the local 7-11 across from Regent University in Virginia Beach. It was an abandoned Shoney’s next door that had a small section on the side of the building that offered shade and comfort all times of the day. I don’t know if Al sat there everyday or if that was his first day, all I know is that was our first interaction.

I got out of my car to run into the store when I was stopped by this larger sized man who didn’t appear homeless but didn’t appear too far off either. He asked me for some money to get something to eat and I asked him what he wanted because I didn’t want to just give him some money. He wanted a soda, bag of chips, and some cigarettes. I told Al I wasn’t going to buy him any cigarettes and I was gonna get him some water because it was so hot that summer day. I came out of the store with a bottle water, bag of chips, a banana, and a cookie for him. He thanked me and I went on my way.

A week later I was at the same store and their is the stranger named Al, who at the time was just a guy because we hadn’t done introductions yet. We speak and he asked me to get him something to eat. Same routine and all most same products delivered to him as I exited the store. I introduced myself and he did the same. From that day forth I looked forward to Friday afternoons to help out the stranger named Al.

As time went by our friendship grew and so did the meals. One day I was headed to my favorite, now defunct happy hour spot in the same shopping plaza. I told Al I would bring him something back. That Friday was the first time I sat down on the same stoop on the side of the Shoneys with Al. We ate dinner together and he opened up to me about his situation. Al was just released from prison and was having issues getting on his feet. He shared with me that he had a job interview but didn’t have enough money to get a haircut. I handed over the 20 dollar bill no question and told Al I would see him later. He didn’t get the job but he made progress.

From that day forth whenever he would see me pull up, his face would light up and he would saw there goes my guy Sean!! We would greet and I would grab him some snacks from the store. At this point I’m enjoying seeing him just as much as he is of seeing a familiar face that is willing to share with him. On a few occasions I would tell Al that he didn’t need anything from me because he appeared to be overstocked with snacks from the other generous people who shopped at the 7-11. He laughed and still thanked me for always helping him.

One night after leaving happy hour I spotted Al waiting on the bus. He spotted me and said “there goes my guy Sean!!!”. He told me he thinks he missed the bus and was going to have to walk. So I gave him a ride to the next city over for him to catch the bus to get to wherever it was he stayed. Very nice guy that looks like he made a few bad choices in life.

So for an entire Summer I stopped at that 7-11 and blessed Al every time I saw him. Then he disappeared. I looked everyday as I drove pass on my way home and still didn’t see him. Then one day I spotted him and made a U-turn to go see him. It had been almost a year since I last saw him and I looked forward to seeing him. As I pulled up Al said “heyyyy there goes my guy Sean!!”. I got out of my car and greeted him. He told me that he had gotten a job working in the kitchen at a local restaurant and wanted to thank me for always helping him when I didn’t have to. It was a great moment looking at him for the first time in over a year as he looked better and had employment. Was so happy for him and grateful that he had gotten on his feet.

As this Summer rolled around, the Shoney’s has been torn down for a new carwash and I haven’t seen Al yet. I still look over into that direction as I drive home, but I still don’t see Al. I hope that he’s well and I know that if I don’t see him it’s a strong possibility that he’s doing better than before. I envision Al in his own residence and doing well in life. I wish him the best and if anyone reading this has seen him or knows who he is, let him know I hope he’s doing great. The stranger named Al became my friend and I became his.