I walked into a pizza parlor last night. In the twelve seconds it took for me to ask for a slice of pizza with artichoke hearts I received two or three impatient looks from the cashier. The man behind me, when it was his turn, was bold enough to ask about the “now hiring” sign out front, interrupting himself halfway through to ask if she, the cashier, minded if he asked about it.
She said it so quickly I barely saw her lips move. He stammered and finished asking his initial question; which position were they hiring for? She told him, in a tone I found presumptuously apologetic, that they were only hiring people to make pizza. Knowing that he wasn’t qualified to make pizza, or at least thinking it now, he moved on and placed his order.
“Hi Ron” I said to him as he sat down.
“Do I know you?” he asked me with a face so devoid of hostility or amiability that it was impossible to tell if he was bothered or even surprised by my knowing his name. I told him I was Jacob’s little brother, and his face lit up, he called me by my name without hesitation. He asked me about my siblings and my mother with genuine interest. I was reminded that men can in fact possess bottomless wells of kindness. It was impossible to tell that he was autistic as he asked me about my plans for school. I loathed the woman behind the counter for being incapable of sparing him half a smile, for not knowing, as I knew, that he was one of the most kindhearted people in this city.