There is a tiny, frail old man I pass nearly every day on my way back to my car. He used to walk the few blocks from his apartment building to the gas station on the corner to buy a paper but this year he has just been coming out to the pavement and slowly shuffling back and forth in front of the building.
He is a scant few inches over five feet tall and has the rheumy blue eyes of the very old. He wears beautifully pressed trousers and an immaculate shirt; now in the winter there is a soft ascot showing at the neck of his fawn coat.
A few months ago as I passed him by I began to smile and say hello and now he returns the greeting in a surprisingly deep voice, pausing in his slow walk and nodding at me but flickering his eyes quickly away from my face.
It was cold on Wednesday and he wasn't out at his usual time and I wondered briefly as I always do when he isn't there whether he was ill. Yesterday he was back, determinedly inching along the pavement, stopping every few feet to muster his energy before starting off again.