Today I offer a humble memorial to the humble man who lives both among us and within us. He is the quiet gentleman who recovers, serves, assists and waits.
A small, dull, solid bronze statue on a pedestal would be appropriate, with the quiet man depicted as crumpled and bulky, a fuddy-duddy in frumpy attire and old-fashioned hat.
Watch him check his tanned left wrist, still hoping the minutes and hours displayed are wrong, because if the time on his watch is correct, he’s missed yet another bus, railcar, or plane.
Or in this case, taxi. Like the previous two or two hundred, the estimated departure times scroll silently.
The Waiting Man quietly wonders when his wife will be ready to go. Right now, she’s upstairs considering another pair of shoes, and it’ll only take her a minute or two to make up her mind.
And once different shoes are selected, she will need time to choose an appropriate outfit to coordinate with them. Still. Her various clothing options (dresses, suits, pantsuits, jackets, jewelry, stockings, and makeup) are all at your fingertips, except for wardrobe items in the attic. It will be ready in no time.
She asks the Waiting Man why he is in such a hurry.
He looks at his wristwatch.
Around him, on the bronze plinth, six or eight pieces of bronze luggage: a small suitcase and a large one, some hand luggage, a steamer trunk. None contain wardrobe items belonging to the Waiting Man himself.
A close examination of the small statue would reveal that he is wearing three sports coats, two ties and a parka. A trench coat is draped over his right arm; an umbrella hangs beside it. All of this, plus the four pants he’s wearing and five sets of socks, make him look bulky, but when he gets to his destination, he’ll shed all but his basic clothes and reveal himself to be small, light, and unassuming.
His clothes, few in total, are all he owns and will look great on a motel clothes rack.
But now, and this is always now in the land of statues and memorials, the Waiting Man, silent and uncomplaining, continues to watch the time. The minutes flow by in an endless stream leading to this moment and far beyond, and he will still stand quietly contemplating, say, the arrival of a Yellow Cab but unwilling to hope, then annihilated once moreover by rash assumptions.
Better to let your mind rest and your expectations to be reduced to zero; he will just wait. He knows how to wait. He practiced for many years.
All his life he’s waited for honors, recognition, promotion, his picture in the newspaper, the Browns to win a Super Bowl, a signal from God, a break.
He knows Godot will never arrive, and every time the Waiting Man goes to a tavern to check on The Iceman’s arrival, it seems to take forever just to get a drink. Better to stay here and settle for what happens and when.
There is no rush, no reason to be impatient with time because time exists outside of one’s power to control it or regulate it or understand it. So he waits.
He waits for dreams to fade and hope to die. He waits for a tomorrow that never comes. He waits for a helping hand. He is waiting for his wife to decide if the brown lace-up shoes go well with her blue canvas handbag.
He’s waiting for one of these days to come or tomorrow to go. He offers no response other than a shrug when his wife asks if that pair of earrings suits him.
Then finally, she arrives wrapped in subtle brown plaids and bold orange stripes, and her long wait is over. The slow drag of luggage and the bump to the taxi stand begin.
The man who waits and postpones briefly stops at a sidewalk vendor to choose a candy bar, and his wife says
“What now? I thought you were in such a rush.
A DARK STATUE would be a fitting tribute to the man who is perpetually waiting. No more than six feet or so would emphasize his calm, low-key demeanor and deferential manner, his willingness to sacrifice himself to the whims and convenience of others.
The statue would fit in a secluded corner of Todd Grove Park or on the sidewalk of a busy Los Angeles mall. It would perfectly complement the Cloverdale Railway Station platform.
There, perched at a slight angle to the north to suggest he look far down the lanes, as if checking to see if the southbound 7:08 has finally come to the bend. But no. It’s getting late.
He looks at his watch and waits.
Tom Hine grew up in Ohio, worked for many years in California on various newspapers, then spent 34 years as a private investigator and public defender’s investigator in Mendocino County. He often writes under the signature of Tommy Wayne Kramer.