You probably won’t know ‘Harry’.
You might have seen him walking down either Chapel or Carlisle St. You might not have. Harry doesn’t say very much. Keeps himself to himself. Most times he just stands in the doorway of an empty shop that’s been available for lease for months.
He just kind of blends into the background; the shadows absorb his presence. There is invisibility about him until he moves onto the footpath and into the light of day. I said you may have seen him walking but really Harry doesn’t walk, he shuffles. His feet barely leave the ground and you can hear the soles of his old trainers gently scraping the surface of the path. Harry seldom looks up. He focuses on the ground at a space about a metre in front of him. Even so, he is able to avoid bumping into people, bins or poles.
He has a humourless face that says more about sadness and struggle than abundant living. Forlorn is not a word we use much these days but forlorn is the word I would choose to describe Harry. Sad and abandoned.
Weeks ago I asked Harry if there was anything I could get for him.
Harry just ignored me and carried on past the betting shop in Carlisle St. Harry in his world and me in mine. Our feet on the same pavement but we might just as well have been on different planets. It’s not the first time I have asked Harry if I could get anything for him. It’s not the first time Harry has ignored me. I always say hello or good morning. I don’t pry but I do ask different questions like ‘anything you need’, but the response is always the same.
I want to persist with offering assistance but I ask myself why. What right do I have to keep intruding upon his space, his world, his life? What gives me the right to make assumptions about who Harry is or that he needs anything from me? Who’s need am I meeting? But then the phrase: “whatsoever you do for the least in the world you do also for me”, haunts me.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the very least I can do for ‘Harry’ ( and perhaps the most) is to ‘see’ him. To recognise and acknowledge his existence and his presence and not expect him to recognise mine.