Alvin was sitting in a chair against the wall with his head back, eyes closed, and feet in a pan of hot water, I was sitting in the barber chair when Leroy entered the shop.
“Why’s the closed sign showing,” he asked.
Behind him, Jabo looked at Alvin. “Why you closed, today, Alvin?” When Alvin didn’t answer, he directed the next question to me, “What’s wrong with him.”
“He show don’t look good.” Leroy commented.
“The fool walked to work this morning,” I explained.
“What, Alvin are you nuts?” Jabo shouted at Alvin.
Alvin opened his eyes briefly. “To hell with you Jabo, to hell with all of you.”
“He was trying to save gas,” I further explained. “At four dollars a gallon, that old caddy of his just about breaks him each week. Was a time he could fill up and ride for a month. Not no more, huh Alvin.”
“But the walk from his house to the shop is a half mile,” Leroy reminded us, “man, you aint young no more. We could do it back in the day, but we old, and our body don’t always want to do what our mind say do.”
“Look, you jive turkeys, my feet hurt, and they have always hurt. They hurt from me standing on them all day cuttin the hair of more jive turkeys like you.”
We knew he was just making an excuse instead of admitting he shouldn’t have walked that far.
“Man,” asked Jabo, “whatever possessed you to walk?”
“Cause foot power don’t cost nothin. We were walkin ‘fore we were drivin.” Alvin continued to try to justify his rash action.
“Well, when gas go to five dollars a gallon, I just might start walkin,” said Leroy.
“You got that right,” Jabo agreed.
Shortman came from the back and sat next to Alvin. “Uncle Alvin, why don’t you ride the bus like me?”
“Yeah, Alvin, you can ride the bus free. All you have to do is get a senior citizen’s pass.” This bit of information from Leroy infuriated Alvin.
“Boy, you know I don’t take no handouts. I aint never been on welfare and I aint bout to go on welfare just cause my feet hurt.”
I had argued with him several times and tried to explain that free stuff for senior citizens like us was not welfare. I didn’t change his mind. So, I tried something different–I agreed that he should walk.
“Alvin,” I said, “walkin is a good idea. It’s good exercise, and parking that rattle trap of yours helps the environment.”
“All of you just shut up. My feet hurt, and when my feet hurt, I don’t want to hear the crap you jive turkeys puttin down.” Alvin got in the last word on the matter.