I found myself recently outside of the local Wendy’s with our grandbeauty, Juniper, feeding french fries to a gang of great-tailed grackles that had gathered in the parking lot. Almost nothing tickles me more than a bird with a french fry. (I don’t know why. The birds just seem so happy.)
A man, late 30s perhaps, came into the parking lot and crossed over to Taco Bell on the other side. His deep tan, a bandana around his neck and the walking stick he carried immediately made me think “traveler.” Homeless by choice, as in the road is his home. Modern-day hobo. (All speculation, of course … but coming from the viewpoint of someone with experience — the majority of it good — with the phenomenon of “traveling kids.”) The dog that followed him, with a matching bandanna around his neck, kind of sealed the deal on my assessment of their situation.
Traveling Man wasn’t asking for money, but a car passed by him and the dog in the parking lot, then stopped. A passenger rolled down the window and held out some dollar bills. The man said a few words to the dog, who jumped around in circles for a few seconds and then ran over to the car and gingerly took the money with his mouth. He returned to his owner and put the bills in his hand. The owner waved at the car and said thanks.
I was dumbfounded and delighted. Someone who was leaving Wendy’s just then took a dollar out of his pocket and gestured to the man, who sent the pup over to retrieve the cash. Then I gave Juni a few dollars, and the dog repeated his performance for her. All the while, his owner thanked us over and over.