Angels exist and sometimes they sell socks...

You never know where you will meet a master.

Siri is a dark Senegalese man with a very white smile. One of those figures that have been appearing on our Italian streets for years. He has a big bag on his shoulders, he offers you lighters and socks, handkerchiefs and hats, umbrellas when it rains and summer fans in the heat.

My partner met him on a rainy morning in the hospital parking lot. He had gone alone to a medical check and the doctor asked him to remain in the hospital for a few days to go through an unclear examination. I was far away, the car in need of a new ticket in the parking lot, Alex locked up in his hospital room. Alex did not know what to do to avoid the inevitable fine and then, finally, he decided to ask Siri to pay the parking ticket every day for him until he was out of the hospital.

And so it was: five days of tickets punctually put on the dashboard of the car.

But on the day Alex finally left the hospital room, Siri was not in the parking lot and Alex drove the car away without being able to pay off his debt.

I went back two days later to look for Siri and the first thing Siri asked me was not for the money. The first thing Siri did was not complain about the car disappearing without him being paid. The first thing Siri did was ask me how Alex was.

This big homeless African guy made me cry.

Siri didn’t have any guarantee that we would be back; he had spent 10 euros on parking for us, 10 euros on some strangers. I know that 10 euros for a guy who lives on the street is a lot of money.

Siri smiled at me like someone who trusts in life, like someone who always sees the good in life.

I felt so small in front of the light and strength of this man, who lives in a tough country that is not his own, who bears daily humiliation from stressed people who don’t want to be bothered by homeless vendors in parking spaces. I felt small but lifted up by his smile, his confidence and his sensitivity.

He told me he had no doubt that we would come back to pay him. I blessed him and hugged him like a brother and whispered to him “please never change”. 

Angels exist and sometimes they sell socks…

(Pic courtesy Carlo D'Agnolo - Unsplash)

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