The cardboard sign

On my way to work yesterday, I happened upon a curious sign. I came across a panhandler on the side of the frontage road after I got off my exit. There, on the side of a busy intersection stood a relatively young man, with a beard and a wool a knit cap, holding a cardboard sign begging for money. What stood out to me was what he had written on the makeshift sign:

Ninjas kidnapped my wife. Need money for Kung Fu lessons.

I wish I would have had time to snap a picture of the guy and the sign, and I was tempted to spot him a few dollars just because the sign amused me. I didn’t give him anything, I was just tempted to do so. But the sign got me thinking about the improbability of the sign. What if his wife had really been abducted my ninjas, and what if he really needed to learn Kung Fu in order to save her?

It’s the ridiculousness of that thought that makes me want to laugh. There’s no way in hell his wife is being held hostage by a band of rogue ninjas, but the what if’s make me pause, if only for a moment.

When the light turned green, I continued on to my job, clocked in, and forgot about the panhandler at the intersection, but for a brief moment, it made me smile. I wonder if he’s homeless and begging to survive, if he’s mentally ill or otherwise incapable of holding down a job, or if he’s simply out there for the laughs. Now again, he gives me pause to think about the possibilities behind the cardboard sign.

I hope he is well.


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