So on Saturday I land in Charlotte after a 9 1/2 hour flight from Germany. I clear customs without a hitch, get my checked luggage and before I know it I’m in my car heading north on I-77 to Statesville to meet my family at a hot air balloon festival. I’m low on gas so I stop to tank up and as I stand next to my car I hear a man say "Hey Daddy!" and I look around to find a guy in his 50’s and obviously down on his luck approaching me. In one hand he has a plastic grocery back full of something and in the other he has what looks like a laptop case.
"Hey daddy", he says again and follows with, "you about a 40?"
"Huh?", I reply.
"You got about a 40 inch waist?", he asks.
"Uh, yeah I guess about that", I say more than a little warily.
"I got some boxers that’d look real nice on you and I give ’em to you cheap", he says. I notice that he’s missing a front tooth but his other teeth look really healthy and white. It looks like he brushes pretty regularly which is a change from most of the people who have tried to hustle me in the past.
"Uh, no thanks I have plenty of boxers," I tell him.
"They’re real cheap man, just $3," he says.
"No really I don’t need ’em," I insist.
"Okay, I’ll throw in a watch and it will still only be $3."
"No thanks," I say, a little annoyance creeping into my voice. I’m tired and I just want to go see my family and I don’t feel like messing with this guy. Forget that he’s probably having the kind of day that makes a 9 1/2 hour flight seem like nothing. Hell, they fed me twice on the plane and this guy may not have had a square meal all day. That’s not on my mind though because I’m tired and I’m only thinking about seeing Celeste and the kids.
"No offense man, I’m just trying to hustle for some money, okay Daddy?"
"No problem, I’m just not interested."
"Okay daddy," he says and then moves to the next pump where another car has just pulled in.
"Hey daddy, what you got about a 50 inch waist? I got some boxers that’d look real good on you and they’re only $3."
After I got back on 77 I thought about two things; I should have slipped the guy a couple of bucks and I should have told him that it’s not an effective sales technique to remind middle-aged guys how fat they’ve gotten. I feel bad that I didn’t do either.