"Hey man, are you OK?" I called out. He looked up at me with bloodshot eyes. "No man, I'm not", he said. I'm not sure of his age - his thirties maybe, he was tall. clean-cut and had a thick mustache - I imagine women would find him attractive. "My Mom died" he said. "I work in here" he said, gesturing to the restaurant "it was a week ago but this is my first Thanksgiving without her". "Oh, I'm sorry" I said - not knowing what else to say. "She was a single Mom and raised me" - he said, sobbing "I don't have a Dad". "Do you have any siblings?" I asked, but he said he didn't and I realized I probably just made him feel worse. "You will remember her forever"- I said - which sounded lame but it was all I could come up at the moment.
"Thanks for stopping man - you are a good person", he said. "I'm sorry" I said again, "I hope your day gets better" which again sounded lame but it is what came out. I then just continued walking - what else could I do? - but my heart sunk as I heard cries of anguish as I left his line of sight.
Like so often happens we think about what could have said after the situation is over. I wish I had said something like "you were her legacy" or "her unfinished project" or something like that, but I didn't. I don't know if he was forced to work on the holiday, or if he volunteered, but he was probably expected to help other people be happy there, when he clearly was not. Not wanting his employer and coworkers to know what he was really feeling, he suppressed it and had a breakdown in the alley.
I continued my walk to the beach. The heat wave has broken here, and it was a blustery but beautiful November day so I snapped this pic. There was indeed, lots to be thankful for, but it is not always easy to feel that way. I have no profound conclusions from my encounter except knowing how hard the holidays are on some of us. Not everyone has a family and not everyone feels the "holiday spirit".
Be kind to each other. Keep your antenna up for how people are really feeling - not how you think they are supposed to be feeling. It is not always on the surface.