I'm writing a new book, called The Essence of Leadership - A Parable and this is the opening I just wrote:
All eyes were on the old man. His oversized disheveled clothing and long and short dreadlocks of gray hairs made him stand out from every other person in the restaurant. He looked homeless. Batteries of water droplets fell from his clothing and pounded the tiled linoleum floor like a drum. Within a minute, the droplets formed into small seas of water bounded by the soles of his blackened bare feet. He stood near my booth, and I couldn’t help but stare. Since I was nearest to the man, all eyes were on me causing my worst fear to come true – being the center of everyone’s attention. I tried to swallow the softball sized lump in my throat, but it didn’t move.
Thinking it would help, I took in a deep breath, lowered my head, and pretended to pray over the combo meal as the old man stared. Three small paper tubs of ketchup formed a fence in front of the french fries that sat in the top half of the opened burger container. His torn clothes, bare feet, unshaven face and disheveled appearance made him look homeless. I could tell that he wanted my food. Of all of the people in the restaurant, why did he stop at my table?
Fifteen minutes before his arrival, I gave the cashier my last five dollars. I’d have to go two more days without lunch and I determined I would enjoy every taste.
The encounter with the old man was the perfect living example of Mazlow’s most basic human need; the need for food. My need may not have been as urgent as the old man, but my stomach would argue that the greater need tilted in my favor. I sensed a connection to the old man, as if I’ve known him for a long time, but I could not recall our connection.