People (person) watching

It seemed early to smoke a cigarette, but this man might have been up for hours already for all I knew.

It was a little before 8 in the morning and the middle-aged Asian dining hall worker was enjoying his recently-lit cigarette. He was sitting on the edge of a brick half-wall in the pit with stress lines on his face possibly making him appear older than was.

He took long drags, exhaling slowly as he knew once it was over he would have to return to the monotony of the dining hall. Smoke curled in front of his face, illuminated by the sun that had only been up for a little more than hour.

One has to wonder what his stress is. Every person on this planet has something to worry about whether it be family, friends, significant others, classes, students, work, or whatever else there might be.

I couldn’t help to wonder what was the reason for this random man’s stress? One look at him and his relieved face post-drag is enough to know he was clearly under stress.

Is he worried about his finances? Dining hall workers aren’t exactly paid their weight gold for the long and tough hours they work. Maybe he has a family he has to work about it and the bills are mounting. Mortgage. Car payments. Daughter needs a new pair of shoes.

Nothing a long, slow drag on an unfiltered Malboro can’t cure.

What if his health is deteriorating rapidly? He looked around 50 but he could said he was 60 and I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. Maybe the smoking has finally taken a toll and his doctor has delivered the somber news. He’s had his life flash before his eyes and is already regretting not taking more chances in his youth.

This drag won’t kill him though and he’s going to enjoy it.

Or maybe he has just had a a little too much fun the night before and needed a little pick me up before work.

I’ll never know either because as I finally gathered the courage and began to walk to his way, he begrudgingly ashed his cigarette and turned to return to Lenoir.

For five minutes, his every action was the only thing I cared about.

Now, I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again.

Whether we cross paths again or not, I hope he is able to persevere over whatever it was that was stressing him.


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