He thanked me profusely, his palms sweating equally profusely as he pumped my arm with a grip surprisingly strong despite its wetness.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you….”
Would this man never stop?
Sliding my hand from his white-knuckled grasp I looked around for a place to surreptitiously dry myself.
“No problem,” I said, already thinking this was a bad idea.
We had met on the street; one of those chance encounters you read about but never believed was true. Normally I would have walked on by, but for some reason today I felt persuaded to stop. Maybe it was the sign, or maybe it was the look on his face.
How many times had I passed him without noticing? One, two, a dozen? He was nothing remarkable in comparison, but then perhaps I hadn’t paid enough attention to even make such a comparison.
Perhaps that is part of the problem.
I had rewritten his sign. As a writer I felt compelled to enhance his message. That was yesterday. His thanks today suggested the new sign had been effective. Apparently now it was profusely persuasive.
His hands were rather disgustingly moist. Still, it was a good deed.
Little did I know that my tiny bit of assistance would come back to haunt me.
David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.