Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day Flags & Maurice Kindness

For many years I only knew this guy as the flag man. He'd move from street to street downtown, mumbling in a way that had me believing he had a muscle disease, not someone shuffling words through a personal purgatory. He'd never ask for anything, just wave his flags. His eyes would catch yours, but never plead. I knew him when his hair was black, not grey. The flags have always been the same size, proportionate to a bar of soap being an aircraft carrier or a slice of the lunar surface. I had not seen Flag Man for many months until he reappeared last winter and I was actually surprised that I could understand him, though not on every day. He would sell his flags in the rain, or in the cold, accepting a dollar, a quarter, a handshake. I asked him his name on one of his better days, when his face was missing the facial tics I had become used to, and he said his name was Maurice. He pointed at the badge on his jacket, but it held meaningless information. Perhaps on the back a concerned family member had camoflauged his true name and address if he was found in some sad way by the police. I asked him his last name and he said that he could not pronounce it for me. But he told me that I could call him Maurice Kindness. I have kept every flag I ever bought from this man, this laborer who shares the street with a man with a tobacco spit cup who can't even take the energy to pronounce "gimme change" properly. I work in Alsip now and have not been in the Loop at any proper time that I might see my favorite flag man. But I look at my Dog 'N Suds root beer mug filled with the tiny toothpicks and the red, the white, and the blue, as I put my change and keys into my pocket. And I get my first smile of the day. Happy Labor Day, gang. Wayne


Blogger Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

Did you notify the Department of the Interior that Maurice Kindness is no longer "whereabouts Unknown"? Maybe they owe him money. On second thought, better first make sure that he WANTS to be found....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 6:27:00 PM  

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