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UNKNOWN FRIENDS

Seeing flashing police lights ahead of me, I pulled off to the side of the road so they could pass.

As the police car approached my location, I noticed that there was a funeral procession following it. I reached over and turned off the key, because I could see that the line of traffic was quiet long, so long in fact, that I could not see the end of the line of cars for almost half a mile or more.

"Never seen so many fancy cars in my entire lifetime," I thought.

"This person must have been very, very wealthy and very well known," I said aloud.

I opened the door to my truck and stepped out onto the sidewalk, because it was just too hot to sit in the vehicle without the air conditioner running.

As I closed the door and turned around, I noticed an elderly man dressed in quite ragged-looking clothes standing on the sidewalk holding his old dirty hat over his heart as the funeral traffic passed. He stood at attention and never moved a muscle as Cadillac after Cadillac slowly passed us by.

I looked over at the rusty, old shopping cart he had been pushing along, before he had stopped for the funeral. It was half full of aluminum cans and a few glass bottles. In the top rack were several unopened cans of pork and beans, a rusty can opener and a half a loaf of bread. I also noticed a piece of cardboard that was sticking out of the heel of one of his old brown shoes.

"Our Father who art in heavenů " Whispered the old man to himself as he stood there, still at attention.

For at least 10 minutes, the old man just stood in the heat, until all the cars had finishing passing. As they disappeared off in the distance, he placed his old, dirty, worn out hat back on his head, grabbed the old cart by the handle and headed off down the sidewalk with a very sad look on his face.

Later that night, I had pork and beans myself. As I took the steaming hot beans out of the microwave oven, covered with grated, melted cheese and various spices, I thought about the old man who was probably eating cold pork and beans somewhere in the dark. Then I thought about the rich person at the funeral, who had probably never heated or even ate pork and beans in their entire lifetime.

I wonder if the tables had been turned, if the rich fellow who died would have even given the old man pushing the cart a second thought as he drove by in one of his big, old long black Cadillacs.

I may not know a whole lot about life, but I do know this for sure: of the three of us who were there that day, I know who the better man was and I hope that I have someone that kind, respectful and wonderful near me when my time comes.



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