It’s the Monday before Christmas when we see the little boy. My daughter and I are in the Lego Store on 5th Avenue across from Madison Square Garden looking for a specific Star Wars Legos set for a Christmas gift, when we notice him. He is around 9 or 10 years old at the most, and he appears to be completely alone. He is very clean, with smooth brown hair, a shiny clean face with soulful brown eyes, and he is well-dressed, except that he isn’t wearing a hat and it is not the kind of day to be without a hat on the streets of New York City. We notice him because he has the full attention of the sales person—a tall young man wearing a Santa Claus hat, leaning over and listening to the boy’s many questions (we have questions too and are waiting for the boy to be helped before asking our own). But the boy has a gift card and his questions seem to be complicated or the sales person is not giving him the right answers because he continues to ask question after question until finally he goes off, alone, looking for something that he has in mind.
Then, at the check out line, there is the boy again, just ahead of us. He has a fairly large set of Legos on the counter and is once again engaged in a lengthy conversation with another sales person (a young female also wearing a Santa Claus hat). They are discussing the gift card and how much he still owes for his purchase. The counter is a bit too high for a person of his size to comfortably make a transaction, and he has a little trouble getting to his money and understanding how much to give the woman (she tells him to put one of his fifty dollar bills back in his wallet and he tells her that his grandfather gave him the money.) We are happy to hear that somewhere—though not here in this busy store in the middle of New York City—there is an adult involved in the little boy’s life. Someone had given him the wallet and the gift card and the fine winter coat and the ability to handle himself quite well on 5th Avenue.