I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Noe Valley, San Francisco, on a typically foggy, cold summer day. An old man in a rumpled trench coat comes hobbling in. He is visibly disheveled, with the wear of the elements upon him and a few missing teeth amongst the remaining crooked, stained ones. I wonder if he will ask for money. He sits down next to me, on a stool. I smile at him brightly.
As I finish my latte and prepare to leave, I drop a dollar. He picks it up and returns it to me. I say, “You keep it,” thinking he would appreciate a cup of coffee. He hands it back to me and says, “No, you need it more than I do.” I look at him curiously. Then he says, “Look at your teeth.”