The “Wally” that I am referring to is not this guy.
During the mid-90’s I attended an all boys, Catholic high school in Lakewood, Ohio. Since I did not come from a family of ‘means’, I never had a car of my own to get me there nor did I ever have any friends that I could ride in with. My only option was taking the bus. Everyday the bus would take us by this old folk’s home. I have no idea what type of facility it was. The only thing that I remember for sure was that there were always old people coming and going.
One of said ‘old people’ was Wally.
He was just this scruffy old man who was always stationed in his wheelchair, facing the street. Obviously, he was a resident of said establishment. Regardless, my teenage brain always thought that he looked ‘like a cool guy’.
One day, well after I graduated, I drove down to see if he was still there. The weather was phenomenal that day. It was the type of day where it would be positively criminal to spend any amount of time indoors.
When I drove by he was out there in all of his scruffiness.
Before I knew what I was doing, I had pulled into the closest spot, got out of my car and I started walking towards him. I had no idea what in the fuck I was going to tell him. The entire four years that I was there, I had never even bothered to say ‘Hi’.
So I introduced myself and I told him that I went to the high school just down the street. I also told him, that I never said ‘hello’ in passing and that I came out here to correct that and to let him know that I was thinking of him.
He was completely tickled by this. As I drove away, I honked my horn and yelled goodbye at him. He waved, enthusiastically, and saluted me.
That was about ten years ago. I never learned any specifics about him. A regrettable fact now that I’m older.
He’s never out there anymore. It’s just an empty piece of sidewalk now. But whenever the weather turns nice, my thoughts turn to him. At least I finally said hello.