A short story...
As Chris drove to the dentist his mood was dark, he had £4 in his pocket and £12 in the bank - £16 to last until the end of the week until payday. His credit cards were maxed out and he just had to make do with what he had and hope that nothing unexpected would occur.
His problem was that he needed to go for this dental appointment, but he wasn't sure if he had the money to pay for any work that might be done that day. He had a broken tooth, he had left it long enough because of his fear of the cost. His mood was dark as he parked the car. His fear of being unable to pay for the treatment was clear in his face as he glanced in the rearview mirror.
He got out of the car and Chris, with his face like thunder, through fear of potential embarrassment, attempted to cross the busy road to the dentist's surgery.
“Hello there, how are you”? A slim man who was well dressed in a red long jacket had stepped in front of Chris. Chris was taken aback. “I'm fine thanks”. The man had a simple face that radiated happiness, he was in his late 50’s and bald. The man reminded Chris of Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame. The man smiled at Chris and asked: “And your name is”? “Chris” Chris replied, “my name is Chris”. “My name is Gary”, said the man as he removed his mitten, after removing the mitten with great care and attention, he offered his right hand for Chris to shake, Chris paused for a second and then shook Gary’s hand. The reason that Chris had paused to shake Gary’s hand is that Gary had a perfectly shaped hand, but it had no fingers, just a thumb. Gary’s hand was like the mitten Gary had just removed and he offered his ‘flesh mitten’ to Chris to shake. As Chris shook the hand, it felt softer more squeezable than a normal hand as fingers are hard and bony.
Gary looked closely at Chris as he offered his hand with no fingers, he knew what Chris was thinking and the symbolism of removing his mitten and showing his hand to Chris under the pretence of a simple handshake was intentional.
“Nice to meet you Chris”, said Gary as he withdrew his hand and carefully put his mitten back over his mitten shaped hand. “Listen Chris,” said Gary, “you wouldn’t happen to have a couple of pounds to give me for a cup of tea and my bus, would you”? Chris panicked inside, he needed the money for the dentist, he was so scared of not having the money to pay for the treatment and now this!
“No I’m sorry Gary, I just don’t have the money to spare right now”, replied Chris. Gary smiled “no problem my friend, just in case you did have some to spare, no worries at all”. Gary walked off with a smile and a wave leaving Chris to attempt to cross the busy road to reach the dentists.
Sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, Chris reflected on this chance encounter with Gary. It was somehow significant. He thought about his situation with money and how it was affecting his happiness, he was constantly preoccupied with worries about the lack of money. Chris pondered this for a while as the wait to be seen by the dentist was a long one.
Chris thought about the significance of Gary appearing, during an insignificant moment as he tried to cross the road worrying about money. The thought came to Chris that he should have given Gary that two pounds, just do it, stop worrying, everything will be OK. The machinery of the universe is whirling around he thought, galaxies collide with galaxies, planets circle suns, moons circle planets. Giving someone £2 is insignificant in the big scheme of things, they can get a cup of tea and their bus, which is also insignificant to the universe, but significant to them. Not having money to pay the dentist immediately is insignificant, as long as you pay them when you can, Chris reasoned.
Chris resolved that he should have given Gary that money, despite his fears. It would be alright. Chris resolved that if he saw Gary when he left the dentist and he had the money, he would give that £2 to Gary.
Chris sat in the dentist's chair with his mouth open as the dentist prodded about. It was just another insignificant workday to her. “Yes said the dentist, we will have to remove this tooth. We don’t have time to do it today, but we can make an appointment next week?” “Wes” said Chris with his mouth open, “yat ll oo”. It is always hard to speak to a dentist during an examination.
Chris was elated, he was paid at the end of the week and he would be able to pay for the dental work on his next visit. He thought again of Gary and knew that he should have given Gary the money, as everything had worked out fine. Although he had resolved to give Gary the money, Chris knew that he was also unlikely to see him again as it was now an hour since their paths had crossed.
Chris left the dentist and navigated across the busy road towards his car. After crossing the road Chris glanced back and there was Gary, who had just walked around a corner and was walking towards the dentist's surgery. Gary looked over the road at Chris and gave him a smile and a wave. “Hello Chris” shouted Gary cheerily as he walked briskly past the dentists. Chris waved back with a surprised smile. Chris looked at the busy road he had to cross, he looked at Gary walking away briskly, he thought about his car parked just meters away.
As Chris climbed into his car, he felt the pound coins in his pocket jangle. He never gave Gary the money, he was too reserved to cross the busy road and chase after Gary to give him his £2 for a cup of a tea and his bus.
“What the hell just happened there”, said Chris to himself as he started the engine. Chris pulled away in his car to start his journey back to work to continue another insignificant day at the office.