day after day, i see him sitting on his front porch, hours at a time, as i walk downtown and back. always perched between the 2 white lions, and looking over his little kingdom – a perfect, green lawn, mowed just so, with soldier-straight rows of plants and flowers – everything manicured and dead-headed and edged and aligned and watered and fertilized. he wears a polo shirt, 3 buttons done up, always the color of a sherbet, neatly tucked into his crisply-ironed and belted shorts, and on his feet are spotless white socks and shoes. i see his sign, carefully hand-printed – ‘3 golf balls for 1 dollar.’
he always nods and smiles as i walk by, a silent sentinel. one day, i walk up to meet him, to buy something, to ask him his story. he slowly approaches me, a bit shy, and tells me i can search the basket to find the ‘best ones’ and then just come back to the porch to tell him how many i have and he will trust me.
as i go up to the porch to pay him, i notice his mustache is as perfectly trimmed as his lawn. he’s an older man who carries a quiet and gentle pride about him. there is one leaf on his perfect lawn, showing his humanity. he smiles with his eyes as he tells me he’s done this for a few years, won’t reveal how he gets the golf balls, or anything else about his interesting business, only that it’s his hobby. he lets me take a picture but doesn’t want me to use his name or his face.
i can see it’s his simple joy, and more important than any money he makes, it’s his way of keeping in touch with the world. he values the conversations he has with people who stop by throughout the day. he has lived a full life and now is enjoying sitting quietly between the lions and watching the world unfold before his eyes.
It’s good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.