Walking back from the laundry room, it was near evening; I looked up into the sky, when I saw a black man in his thirties approach the duplex we live in. He was wearing a satchel that seemed to be bulging with books, a clipboard under his arm. “Hello” I said as I walked up behind him carrying my laundry basket full of warm clothes. He turned and gave me a wide smile and an energetic “good evening.” He went into his sales pitch; I walked past him so that I was closer to the door. In as polite a manner as possible, I asked him if he could get to what it was he was selling because I had something on the stove. I smiled. He said no problem and with his continued joyful nature, he added that he was a single father and this was his last stop and that he needed to sell one more magazine subscription.

“I don’t have any cash. All I have are these quarters,” and I pulled out the baggy of quarters from my pocket. “I don’t usually carry cash. I’m sorry.”

“Are you sure you can’t help.”

“But I just told you I don’t have any cash.”

I’m beginning to feel uncomfortable. The night seems to be getting darker. Finally, he accepts that I’m not going to buy a magazine subscription. His smile and joy disappear like a magic trick. Poof. He doesn’t say thanks for your time or anything. He just shakes his head at me, gives me a dejected look, and turns to go.

“Good luck,” I say.

I might have bought what he was selling if I did have the money. On the other hand, the way that he acted when I wasn’t able to help him, makes me think twice. I can see the situation from both points of view. I can appreciate his disappointment, yet how can a person be so bold, to expect another human to produce something that they simply do not have in that moment.

I was perturbed. I forgot to look back up into the sky because, now, I was distracted. I don’t like disappointing people; more than that, I don’t care for people that are nice when they want something and then turn their act off when they don’t get what they want.

I’m always leery of sales people; however, if you’re going to try to sell something, at least have the courtesy to see your script through and be kind either way. After all, you are taking someone’s time.

The laundry in my basket turned cold. As I walked into the house, I couldn’t help but to re-contemplate the human condition, and the weeks since this occurrence I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind, in this specific situation and in general.