Sorry

*****

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

– Ronald Dahl

“Sorry…,” I said with an apologetic grin.

It was already a little too late when I noticed it was uttered out of my mouth rather too quickly.

It’s the daily routines that gets to you. When my parents used to shake their heads to hear that I rush every morning to get to class just on time, I used to say “you know, I’m a college kid.” But things changed this fall. I am getting used to waking up an hour before I leave the apartment — take time getting ready, and even enjoy the slow walk to the station. These days I get to the office early, and if I wanted to, I can stop by for a cup of coffee on the way and still make it on time. It’s become my daily routine, just like the word “sorry.”

As I walk across Michigan Avenue towards the office in the morning (also known as the Magnificent Mile, the famous shopping district of Chicago), I pass by a number of homeless. In the office-going time, it is less likely for a beggar to ask me in particular for a change, since there are other number of commuters walking down the street as well. It’s become a daily routine for me to pass by the same homeless at their usual spots, hearing them say their certain phrases to ask for a change to strangers. By chance if they look and ask me, I say “Sorry, I don’t have change” and walk away — another daily routine.

Today, she looked and talked to me in the brisk of time I was passing by. I have seen her on the side of the street in the mornings, asking “Do you have any change?,” holding her stained white plastic cup on her right hand. When she spoke to me this morning, I immediately went ahead and said “Sorry,” before realizing that she actually just said “Good morning” to me. Then I stopped myself from continuing with my sentence to blur out “I don’t have change.” It was like a twitch in my thoughts and my mouth.

“That’s alright, baby,” she grinned back at me and responded.

My feet didn’t know how to stop walking down the street. So I kept walking… just kept walking.

But I had enough time — I did.

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