I didn’t recognize Walter when I saw him at a gas station last week. That’s understandable since I hadn’t seen him for 15 years, but there was something else — something more basic.
When I knew Walter, he was addicted to pills and alcohol. He lived down the street from me. He was unhappily married and had turned to substances to numb his pain. By the time his wife left him and they lost their home, he looked like a bum most of the time. I never knew what became of him.
The man who called out my name at the gas station looked nothing like a bum. There was something familiar about his eyes, but my memory couldn’t place him. I had to ask who he was.
After he told me, I smiled and shook his hand. He was sitting in a Mercedes looking like a business executive, not like a bum or an addict. We chatted for a couple of moments as I stood there, but I couldn’t ask the real question on my mind. He knew what I must be wondering, though.
“I guess I look a little different than the last time you saw me, huh?” he said with a smile.