Usually the only people wanting to stop passers-by on Station Road are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they do not sit in the middle of the pavement (sidewalk) with a hat on the flagstone beside them.
Often these beggars mumble a few words, asking for change. They may look at the floor, but they do not turn away their heads. This young woman did. She looked like Ruby, but with more flesh on her bones than when I taught her; I wasn’t sure.
Deliberately, I slowed down. She twisted herself even further away from any eye contact. She did not want to speak to me. A few metres on, and I turned about. Again she was turned away from me, deliberately, in the opposite direction this time.
I felt obliged to respect this decision, whether or not it was Ruby there. But if it happens again …
Other ex-pupils have crossed the street to avoid me; some have even crossed the street to say hello. But such friendliness is a precious gift that they can withhold or offer as they see fit. I felt obliged to respect Ruby’s decision. If it was Ruby. Or even someone else.
I shared this story with Christina, who commented: