The only one who called my Dad Henry “Good Man,” as in “How are you, my good man?” was Bill Pickens, who was born in the southern United States and worked at Sears Roebuck with Dad in Chicago.
They fished together sometimes. This made them kin in some way that had nothing to do with where they came from, who they worked for or even what each of them thought about.
I thought it was a nice way to address a fellow and have waited to use it.
Today I did. At the corner of Belmont and Sheffield on a ouchy-hot-hot-hot day, a fellow barely old enough to claim the title “man,” needed a greeting. At least I thought he needed a greeting. He wore a black suit with tie and white shirt. He carried a satchel the size of a small child, but heavier. I saw him looking around for a place to discard his emptied water bottle. Let me repeat that. On the kind of day when sidewalks buckle, he wanted to be kind to an environment that did not return the favor.
Knowing where trash cans lurk in these parts, I said, “I can toss that for you, my good man.”
Because he was one.