Ray would not let me take his picture.
But his is captured on my heart.
Ray is a polling precinct worker, who isn’t very happy with the way things are going. “They are not up to my liking,” he quickly shared.
I met him after voting in the mid-term elections. Once I told him what I was doing, I thought I’d have to go find someone else to meet. But Ray's reticence surprised me when he said, “I don’t live in your neighborhood, but I do work at your polling station so that should qualify me, right?”
Ray was kind enough to invited me to walk with him to Burger King and join him for lunch. Even though I had just eaten, I walked the 7 blocks because I was curious how a man with only one front tooth would eat a hamburger.
I tried to ask questions but Ray had a way of deflecting so that he could control the conversation. It really seemed like Ray was asking questions not because he wanted to know more about me or to learn from my answer. It was just his way of segueing to whatever topic came to mind.
The one thing we both agreed on was how funny life is when two people with completely different opinions on nearly everything could still laugh together. We shared a similar sense of humor; one not many got. By the time we got to Burger King, Ray began to share more personal, family stories. It felt like spending some time with an old friend. I have a feeling that Ray didn’t really have anyone to talk to, and so he shared himself with any stranger.
I would eventually learn that he was from Merchantville, NJ. Most of his life he was an introvert, and at one point in time he was the president of his bowling club. He worked for the county of Lost Angeles, and is now living on social security. He eats at McDonald's and Burger King a lot. And in case you were wondering, Ray hates pickles on his hamburgers because, “The juice gets deep into the meat and takes over the flavor.” But for me, that's what makes getting to know someone like Ray worthwhile; allowing his story to seep deep within my heart and change the flavor of my day.