Progress

The omelet did wonders in restoring my strength, but the information David gave me left my head swimming. I thanked him graciously and asked if there was any way I could repay him.

“Just pay it forward,” he said. “The next time you see someone in need, remember the kindness that was shown you and duplicate it.”

I asked for his business card and scribbled my information on a napkin before we parted ways. I put his card in my shirt pocket as I stepped out onto the sidewalk and watched him walk away. Though the message he had of caring more about providing a service than making a buck was very simple, it was also very complex, especially in this day and age. I looked in the direction of my car and thought about going home, but I opted for a walk to clear my head instead.

I headed west on Main Street toward the bay front. It always amazes me when I take a walk down Main Street and see what is there now compared to what has been there in years past. Where there was once a bar, now there is an art gallery. Where there was once a furniture store, now there is a restaurant.

I wondered how much of the change in my own city could be attributed to people who followed David’s principles. Was the progress that happened in this town due to people caring for others and meeting needs or was it due to the possibility of profit? The fact that Sarasota is the third wealthiest county in Florida skewed my causality bias toward profit.

As I passed by an alleyway, I heard a clatter and looked to see a shopping cart sitting next to a dumpster. I watched for a moment as

I walked before seeing some refuse fly out of the dumpster as if on a mission to free itself from burial before it was too late. I stopped in the middle of the intersection as another piece of refuse jumped to freedom.

A moment later, a head popped out from the dumpster and looked around. I took a few more steps, nonchalantly keeping one eye down the alley. An old woman tossed a half-full garbage bag into the shopping cart and crawled out behind it with amazing grace for a woman of her age. Not bothering to dust herself off, she picked up the refuse, grasped the handle of the cart and headed toward the mouth of the alley.

I started walking again, nearly bumping into a business man who seemed to be talking to himself.

“Excuse me,” I said.

He nodded curtly and went right on talking to himself as he turned and crossed the street. An oncoming car braked quickly with a short shriek of rubber on macadam, but the man kept going. A leather briefcase swung from the man’s right hand as he strode down the street, seemingly oblivious to life around him.

Before I judged him as mad, I noticed the blue light shining from his ear and the black plastic which encased it like a silicone tumor. It seems that everyone’s on a mission, I thought to myself.

I wondered what Yewell and Iman must think of our communicative devices. I wondered what they must think of the way we live our lives in such a hurried frenzy, where all too often we put our safety in jeopardy just because we’re not watching where we’re going. I wondered what they thought of this busy-ness we entrench ourselves in to the point of missing some of the finer points of life, such as manners and civility. I wondered if this game of marketing and putting more energy toward such behavior was really worth it, if it would only produce more busy-ness. And I wondered what had happened to them, and if I truly had gotten a bit delusional.

This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Come back weekly for the next part or order your copy in ebook or paperback today!

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