He was very shy, very deferential - keeping a distance of about 10' between us - but wondered if I could help him with some money for a coffee.
And he kept apologizing.
It had rained and he was soaked, emphasizing his plight, but I don't usually carry cash, which I told him.
I pulled out my empty wallet to demonstrate, and...
There were two $20's inside.
"I can't give you those. How 'bout I bring you change after coffee?"
Could he come with me, he asked?
"Sure," I said, and almost immediately regretted it.
Then I thought a moment, and asked if I could take his picture, an inferred quid pro quo.
He said yes, but could he salute in the picture and then say a prayer?
We snapped the pic.
It was more like a rambling poem than a prayer - some of it beautiful, some of it nonsense - and he talked about The Mother and The Father, and how we were them, or they were in us - and he started to tear up.
After he was done I gave him one of the twenties.
It didn't mean much to me, really, and I was hoping to slip away, conscience appeased.
He thanked me, shook my hands profusely, and then suddenly, with a look of intense need, asked for a hug.
"Sorry," I said, "maybe if you weren't so wet."
Then I ambled off, hoping to distract myself with a visual segue.
30 Minutes later I walked into Starbucks and... there he was, getting coffee.
I slipped off to the bathroom, hoping to avoiding detection and wash my hands.
He saw me, though, when I came out, thanked me, and shook my hand again.
I squeezed his shoulder and walked out.
"I love you, Adam," he said as I walked out the door.Which may be the nicest thing I've heard anyone say to me in a while.
"Eckel loves you."
*I'm not sure if that's spelled correctly, could've even been "Echo", but I'm pretty sure that's right.