Last week, I was walking up 2nd Avenue with a couple of work friends when I ran into a former colleague. We shoot hands briefly as he continued to walk in the opposite direction. It was one of those quick moments that doesn't hit you until after it happens.
I saw the same guy this evening right outside my office building. He was walking down 3rd Avenue. He pointed at me and smiled and we had a quick and amazingly awkward conversation.
This is a guy with whom I had worked for many years. So why the tension? Truth be told, I had no idea what to say. I mean, what do you say to a guy who was just released from prison?
I thought I'd go through my entire life without knowing someone who had been to the slammer. The details of the crime are unimportant for the purpose of this blog. But as a writer, I'm rarely at a loss for words. Unfortunately, I tend to say many inappropriate things much to the amusement of my friends. So what do you sat to someone who has just gotten out of prison?
He told me I look great. I said so do you. It's true. He looks good...for a guy who has recently been in prison. See, I couldn't get that out of my head. It's like that phrase hung at the end of any thought I had.
So, how are you doing? I mean, now that you're out of prison.
Where are you working now? I mean, is anyone going to hire you since you were just in prison?
It's really great to see you. When did you get out?
Wanna go get a cup of prison? I mean, coffee?
The truth is, while it was great to see him, I want to know what it was like being in prison. But the corner of 3rd and 49th didn't seem like the place. I was on my way home, so it wasn;t the time either.
What would you say to someone you hadn't seen in 5 years because he was in prison?