Every morning on our drive to the babysitter's house, we pass the new elementary school that is being built. This construction has been in process for well over a year and it has been fascinating to watch a huge empty field become a massive two story school, complete with sidewalks, grass and a parking lot. But what really catches my eye every day is the man in the wheelchair.
The man in the wheelchair and neck brace is probably in his 60's. He rolls himself over (I assume he lives nearby) and parks himself in the same spot every morning. He then proceeds to smoke and watch the construction workers. I have no idea how long he stays there, but I can tell you that he arrives super early since we pass him at approximately 7:30 each day.
I can't explain why it makes me so sad to see this man. I wonder what's wrong with his neck and/or back. Why is he in a wheelchair? Is he a veteran? Did he have a bad car wreck? Does he have some type of genetic medical condition that confines him to a wheelchair? I wonder if he used to work in construction and maybe that's why he enjoys being in this environment. Or maybe he lives alone and just has no other way to pass his time. Maybe his kids are grown and never come see him.
When I first saw him, he would watch across the street from the job site. Now he has taken to wheeling himself onto the brand new sidewalk - apparently to get a better view. But a few days ago, I was surprised, and very happy, to see him right in the middle of a group of construction workers who were talking and laughing with him while they had their morning coffee and cigarettes.
I don't know anything about this man. I don't know his life story. But I do know that I hope he is still wheeling himself to the school when my kids begin there in August. I would like to say hello. And ask him his name.