“Hey! Remember me?” I’m walking down the sidewalk in my barrio, not far from home, taking a little break from my daily routine. A young man stands looking at me.
“I’m the son of the carpenter. Remember me? Diego.” Now I’ve stopped, and I’m puzzled and looking at the guy closely. He’s about 24, 5’6”or so, dark, reasonably good-looking in a somewhat tough kind of way, someone I think I’d remember. “You remember, I’m the son of the carpenter who installed the floor and built the closet.”
Now I’m even more puzzled. There’s been some (very) minor plumbing work done on my apartment by Arturo, my landlord’s handyman, but this guy doesn’t look anything like Arturo. And the closet and floor were already there and haven’t been touched since I moved in. And I know all the folks who have been around here doing other stuff. This guy wasn’t one of them. “Closet? Floor? Uh, I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” I reply.
“He also did the tar job on the roof.”
“You mean next door?” I ask, remembering that the neighbor had his roof recently re-tarred. But I’m starting to wonder about this guy’s memory, as I seriously have no clue as to who he is. And why would he care who I was if his dad was working next door?
“Yeah, next door. That one.” There were indeed some guys working on the roof next door about six weeks ago. But this young man wasn’t one of them, and neither of the roof workers were old enough to have a son this guy’s age.
“What street was that on?” I asked. The guy paused. “I don’t think I’m who you think I am,” I added. “What street was the work on?” The bar to answering this particular answer was pretty low, as we were about a half block from my street and all the guy would have to do was point down the block. But he had no answer.
“What was the street where all this work took place?” I asked again. The guy said nothing and started to back away. “What street?” I repeated. Now he turned and walked across the street without another word and then disappeared. And that was it.
I’m not sure what it means, though I wonder if it wasn’t the opening act for some kind of scam. I was looking even more like a foreigner than usual that day, dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, sandals, a panama hat, and sunglasses. Definitely not a local. And I don’t normally forget 24-year old Mexican guys, especially ones who look like him.
In fact, I’m certain I’ve never met the guy. And I’m equally sure he’s not gay and trying to pick me up. If it was a scam, what might it have been? And if not, what was he after?
These are just some of the small mysteries of living in this country.