Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Car Guard

When I go to gym, I usually park in the same area of the parking lot every time if there is a spot. Creature of habit. Also, I like the car guard there.

He is an older man, I'd put him in his fifties or so, but it's hard to tell because his skin is weathered and brown from standing out in the sun and rain. Over the months we've gone from nodding, to smiling to greeting each other. I like him because he told me once to avoid parking under the tree (where I had just parked, for shade) because the birds would mess my car in no time. I also like him because once, when my four year old son slammed his finger in the car boot door by accident, the car guard didn't come running to see or make a fuss. He just stood at his usual respectful distance and let me deal with it.

I don't always have small change on me to give him, because I usually go to gym without my wallet. And in these days of plastic, I don't always carry cash anyway. So I don't always give this guy money, but then on occasion, to make up for it, I will give him a note.

Today was one of those days. I folded the R10 note and let my son give it to the car guard. I could see he was chuffed - shame - maybe it had been a slow day. He asked my son what his name was, and then he said that his name is Mark and then he told me "My grandkid's names are Kyle and Louwrens" and I suddenly stopped and looked properly at this car guard.  He has grandkids!

Of course he does! And yet, even though we greet each other almost daily, I never thought of him as a person with a life, possibly a wife, and grandchildren. I asked him how old his grandkids are, and he said four and two. He said the two year old, Kyle, is the clever one. I asked him if they live nearby, and he said no, they live in PE and that he is hoping to go see them, that he was just waiting for his son to bring him to PE and that his son is a Civil Engineer.

In that moment, I saw Mark, the car guard. And my heart was there too - feeling his longing to just go visit his grandchildren in PE.

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