There’s a Man

July 12, 2017 | 6 Comments

There’s a man I see every time I go to a certain exercise class. He does the evening shift in the parking lot next to where the classes are held. He opens the boom when he needs to and then it closes again automatically I think. Up and down. On and on. Past the dusk, as the light fades away and onwards into the inky black night.

There is something about him that makes me think this is a second job, that he does something else during the day to earn money, that’s he’s earnestly saving for a modest retirement that he deserves. He’s not a young man…early 60s I think. He wears his security uniform with pride, the collar perfectly pressed, his hair combed just so, his parting completely straight. And every time he waves me in, he gives me the biggest smile, that beams straight from the heart, as pure as the sun. 

When he first did this I thought he wasn’t mentally all there. I mean, no one can be THAT happy, manning a boom in a parking lot every night can they? Or maybe they can. All I know is that every time I see him, he acts like I am his friend, and he tugs at my heart strings this man. I wonder if he is lonely, or if he is loved, or if anyone ever calls him, or bakes him a cake, or drops in at his place for tea.

I’m sure he smiles and waves at all the ladies in activewear who ask gently if they can park underground. You can see he gets a kick out of being the ‘master of the boom’, of letting us in because all the office workers have long gone home and if ladies in their tights want to use a spare parking space that’s sitting bare, well then, why shouldn’t they?

But with my writer’s imagination I want to know his back story. I am curious and as I warm up on the treadmill once my car is safely parked inside, or do my set of  sit ups, I can’t help think about his life and wonder if he is happy and what path has led him here.

Does he play Tetris on his phone when he’s bored? Or check his Instagram feed (#work again #parkinglot #bored). Does he listen to the radio, while the DJs keep him company all night? Or does he study the classics, or is he writing a novel, or does he simply sit and stare and let his thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the disappointments, wash over him, like waves slapping against a jetty?

I can’t pity someone I don’t know. But this man makes me consider loneliness as a concept, and how blessed we are if we have family we can rely on, siblings we’d call friends, parents we admire and respect. Friends who ask us out for dinner, drop by with a bottle of wine, offer to take our kid to a show, bring us medicine when we’re sick. Children that snuggle up on our laps, scream with excitement when they hear our key in the door, wait outside the bathroom door for us to finish.

Because as much as being needed can sometimes be exhausting, it can also infuse our lives with meaning. Imagine doing life all alone. What kind of a life is that?

Maybe next time I go to that exercise class I will bake him a cake, make him a thermos, thank him for his grace. We all have so much love to give, and I feel like I need to spread it around a bit more.



  • Reply Nats July 12, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Lovely thoughts Bee. I’d love to be able to know people’s “back story”. Please ask him & get back to us!

  • Reply Heather July 12, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    When I first started working in Parkmore there was a guy in one the gated booms who stood to attention and gave me a huge salute every time. Such positivity! Such joy. Inspirational. So afterwards I got into the habit of doing salutes to all the guys when I pass. It can’t be an easy job but some of them are really friendly.

  • Reply Megan Keith July 13, 2017 at 8:46 am

    What a beautiful post. And such an important reminder to spread love. Thanks for sharing! Megan xx

  • Reply Leigh July 13, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I love this post more than you know – I often think about the people I cross with paths with like this. They walk with a grace that can only come from hardship and a life lived with integrity despite that hardship. Bake the man a cake and tell us how it goes down. Beautiful post lady xxxx

  • Reply Caley July 14, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    So thought-provoking – I often think of these things when I see similar people on a regular basis Why don’t you ask him his story? I am intrigued by him too now x

  • Reply Antwane July 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Such a great idea! Loneliness has to be the worst thing ever. I miss my family is SA so much and I can’t wait to go home and spend the rest of my life with them. A man across my house died alone in his home he was only found 2weeks later. When his house was cleared they found bottles of homemade wine under his floor boards. My heart sunk…he made wine and most probably had no one to share it with. This lonely man change my life forever.

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