I had one of those epically long work weeks where you actually can’t remember what day it is. It’s started with an unplanned overnight shift on Sunday night. I saw the sun come up. That has not happened in five at least five years. A few brutally long days followed, then I made an emergency run to the ER with my dad. I got home just before sunrise, slept for 4 hours and hustled in to work a long day and the better part of a night. I think that was Wednesday. Another long day follow on Thursday, I got home at 10:oo PM and then stayed up to the wee hours covering a technical issue and dealing with a problem in China. I was pacing in my backyard with a cell phone at 2:30 AM. Unfortunately, my team had worked even longer than me, so I covered the morning shift on Friday. By the afternoon I was a zombie. It was in this state of zombiehood that I met an honest man.
I had parked along Avalon in Wilmington to visit El Metapaneco No 2. I was checking out the window menu when I noticed that I had lost $20. I was pissed but wrote it off as a loss, I figured there was no way to find it again. I entered the restaurant and ordered Pastelitos de carne. While waiting for my take out order, an old man entered the store and started talking to me in Spanish, a waiter translated. The man saw me drop $20 when I got out of my truck. He was tying to return it. I offered to give him half of it as a reward, he refused. I offered to buy him lunch, he refused. His translated response to my offers was, “I work hard for my money, I assume you do to.”
Wilmington is a lower middle class Hispanic city. The people who live there do not have a lot of money. They work hard. $20 is nothing to sneeze at. Heck, I’m not sure I would have returned the money. I like to think I would have done so. It would have been real easy for him to pocket the cash since it had fallen from the pocket of an outsider. Non-Hispanic visitors to Wilmington are rare. Heck, the only other white guy I saw as a cop. Don’t get me wrong, the neighborhood is not hostile, in fact, it is just the opposite, I always feel welcome.
I was stunned to meet such an honest man. We shook hands as he left. A smile passed between us. My long week did not seem so oppressive after that. Of course, having a foodgasm helped.
I slept till 10:00 am this morning. It felt damn good.