Lois and her best friend, Vicki, were sitting at an outside table at a restaurant in downtown Somerville. The two friends were sharing a late meal at about dusk on a summers’ evening. Because it was late by Somerville standards and in the middle of the week, the restaurant was quiet and there were no other diners at the sidewalk tables where Lois and Vicki sat enjoying their evening. Lois did not see herself as a wine connoisseur; but even she did not think wine at this restaurant was very good. In fact, the food wasn’t all that good either and the service was not up to Somerville standards. Despite the lack luster food, o.k. wine and sub-par service, Lois was enjoying herself. The weather was mild and the company could not have been better. In fact, the conversation was so absorbing; probably something to do with their latest character development in one of their novels, that the pair did not notice a man walking up their table.
Lois and Vicki were deep into conversation when the long haired, disheveled man approached their table. The table was right on the sidewalk so the man could practicably pass by and approach almost as one fluid movement. He looked scruffy as though he had been living on the street. The intruder looked right at them and in a rather bold move he hungrily asked, “Do you have any food you could give me?” He said he would eat it if they did. In thinking about it later, Lois thought it sounded like he meant he would eat it right then and there.
“Our plates were just taken away” Vicki told him. It was true; the waiter had just taken their plates. Without another word, the man shuffled away. Lois and Vicki resumed their conversation without missing a beat. They did not even acknowledge to each other what had happened. Whether it was because they were so engrossed in conversation, and/or were so citified that they took in stride a situation that might have shaken others was not clear.
Odd as it might seem that the man made that request; it is even odder that the two women kept on talking and did not even comment to each other about the strange man or his sad appeal. However, that is how it was with the two of them.
What would have happened if there was a crust of bread on plate? Would they have noticed and then offered it to the man? What if they did give the man a morsel of food? What if he began to choke on the scrap? Then would Lois or Vicki perform the Heimlich maneuver? Actually touch this guy? Assuming they have altruistic views would they have gone that far? Or would they just sit there waiting for someone else to act? What if this mysterious person was a secret morality police? Would Lois and Vicki have passed whatever test the morality police was conducting? Humm…. Good thing there is no such thing as morality police. Or is there?
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