Outside smoking. A nice enough man approaches me and says he is from Nigeria. He just arrived in LA two months ago. He is looking for a job and requests that I bless him. After an awkward beat where I break eye contact and look off int the middle distance as I consider what the hell is even happening right now, I reply, "Sorry. I don't think I can. I'm not religious." He repeats my answer and then goes down a list of religions. "Nope. Nope. Nope." He asks what do I believe. I motion to the sky and go, "This is it."
He takes that in, I sense a shift as he re-composes himself, then he clarifies that while that is interesting, what he meant when he asked if I could bless him was could I bless him "with cash" since he's still trying to get a job somewhere. "Sorry, I don't have any money on me," is where my sentence should have ended, but I went on to volunteer, "My job's ending in a month. I'll be looking same as you."
So then we got to talk about that for a while. "Dissolving my department" was re-explained as "closing up shop." Then he brightens up and assures me that God has a plan, etc. I politely nod again and again. "Mm hmm. Mm hmm."
I make eye contact with a driver of one of the oncoming cars let loose from the traffic light at the corner. He's giving major stink eye for no discernible reason. Maybe it's just his resting face.
He asks if I can spare a cigarette. I cannot. I leave my pack inside my apartment because I get asked so often outside on the sidewalk. I would've given him one tho, but them's the breaks.
He's a musician. He plays the congas. He sings. He's a pretty happy guy. I don't have a single thing for him and I'm done volunteering information about myself.
As he begins his wrap up, some 60-something year-old WASP-y lady in white pants and a teal blouse passes by us, proceeds up my apartment building's walkway, stands at the precipice, looks up at the second floor windows and starts shouting, "HELLO? HELLO? HELLO? HELLO? HELLO? HELLO?" I don't hear anything being said to me.
The musician from Nigeria puts his fist out for a bump. I return it. He says something about God has stuff in store for us all and we must not give up. I reply "The only way is forward. Take care." He turns and resumes walking down the sidewalk.
Inside my apartment, the chicken in my oven is now burning.