After dining out with a few friends we were quite desperate to get back home and get some rest, but getting the chance to grab a picture at the right time was just too tempting. We were afraid it was getting late and we'd miss him, but there he was at Saldanha, staring blankly at the cars and waving when people greeted him.
I once thought the guy was nuts. Then someone told me about his story and something changed. Maybe I was the one seeing things the wrong way. Maybe a lot of people still sees things the wrong way.
We stopped the car and I headed next to him, asked him to take a picture with me and then took a few minutes for a chat. He's the kind of guy that reads one's minds and won't hesitate to treat us like he'd know us for ages. Like he has nothing to loose. I asked him and he replied it's been quite usual for people to get out of cars to take pictures with him (those damn geocachers,eh!) He liked the digital camera, these modern thingies where you are able to see what you've shot a fraction of a second later. He said he hated to see himself on pictures, to which I replied I felt the same, but it's the only way we have to stop time for a while and make the image and matching memories last throughout our lives.
He said it was an unusual saturday. The weather was fine, there should be a lot of people in the streets but no, there were less cars passing by than average. But he'd stop here and there to turn his head and wave when people called his name (!) or when a car horn sounded. Even after reading quite some articles about him, talking to him made me feel this was all it took to make him happy for a while. Human touch, shaking hands, asking for a picture, exchanging a few words, waving back. This is what's keeping this man happy. This may be what's keeping this man alive. And it doesn't cost a thing. It doesn't hurt to greet him while passing by. If only it was so easy to make a fraction of the world population happy like it seemed to be in those swift five minutes to one single human being...
No matter how these things and this kind of people pass by us, there will always be someone refuting these theories, saying the guy doesn't get no true satisfaction or happiness for standing there, stating waving is not a cure for his loneliness but a mere illusion. Meh. Psychology doesn't really explain everything, let alone at this distance. A few months ago I saw some people downtown distributing free hugs. Just because. And I stood there for fifteen minutes and saw the way everyone else gave them "that" look. Eventually, one would accept a hug but would ask "but what's the catch?". The human being is so self centered and focused on himself that this kind of "open" attitude is being ostracized. Saying all these "special ones" are nut cases is relative. Maybe they're the ones who are right. Maybe we're the ones needing a cure. A hug. A smile. For free. For a change.
As I turned the roundabout and faced him again, I sounded the horn and waved. He had "that" smile and waved back. Is he really happy this way? It doesn't help to try. I want to believe he is.