Duty

I saw him every morning on my way to work, scribbling away into his register furiously. He’d mumble a faint good morning if and when he noticed someone walking in his direction. Occasionally, he’d smile and nod an acknowledgement.

The grandmother stopped by for a brief visit last week.  She wasn’t a familiar face to him. He asked her the perfunctory questions, which floor, which flat, and so on. She answered slowly, while he made note of it all. He asked how she was related to us. The grandmother replied rather sternly, “I’m here to meet my son.”

He had never felt so mortified in his life. A part of him wanted to go crawl into some hole. Somewhere, he had suspected the relationship but duty had compelled him to ask. He smiled in recognition at her subsequent visit, even made small talk with her. To compensate, he even tried making small talk with me attempting to reveal his more human side.

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