Stiles This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

July 5, 2012
On the train ride to Chicago I met a man named William G. Stiles or so said his name tag. I met him rather by accident. He was loudly joking with some kids and saying that he was traveling farther than they were. Just turning around to see what the commotion was all about, I saw him. As I peeked my nose over the back of my seat, the ruckus turned to me and flashed a smile. "And where are you going?" he softly asked.

"Colorado," I replied.

"Ha," he said, "and I'm going farther than you!"

This book of knowledge was very eager to share his experiences with everyone he met. Curly grey hair puffed out from underneath an ancient, dusty, navy blue beret. Very seldom did he remove his cap, for it was one of his most prized possessions. Probably a token of one of his many adventures or maybe a souvenir from the Navy, which he volunteered many times, and had been in for thirty years. That was and is his trademark; everything else other than that is just for fun.

A map maybe of his life imprinted on his face. Every centimeter of his face covered with lines. Between his old lips and tired teeth sat a piece of wood. This toothpick belonged there and did not move even for a cough or yawn. That was his sign to show the world he was pleased with himself and comfortable where-ever he was. The stick added a sort of character to his ramblings and gave them meaning.

This self-contained man carried all of his belongings on him, never having to worry that he would forget anything. Although once or twice I noticed that he seemed to lose pieces of paper or other small meaningless items that meant the world to him. Hanging from his waist was a large pouch with the word Rosignor across the front. The sagging bag contained everything and anything one would need to survive, I could tell just from looking at it. Corners and edges poking through the cloth. All I could do was imagine what that sack contained.

Dangling from his back pocket hung a noisy chain attached to a large black, leather wallet. The wallet, like Stiles, showed its age not by trying to hide the fact but by flaunting it. Brown spots and creases covering the wholesome package. The large silver chain protecting the wallet was the noisy alarm that said, "Stiles is coming." The pocket knife also hanging from his belt meant to tell people, "I have strength."

His hiking boots worn and comfortable looked as if they had seen many things and traveled many places. A flannel blue and yellow plaid shirt covering a bright yellow blue and polyester shirt were hiding the little curly grey hairs trying to peak out over the top. These two items completely clashed yet fit his personality. They also seemed to match his dusty grey pants with small blue yellow, green, and red plaid on them.

We carried on a wonderful conversation about his days working on a railroad and other life experiences. He was so interesting and he had so many things to say. He asked me what I was going to do with my life and I told him I had no idea. He then asked how old I was and I told him fifteen. He laughed and said that I had plenty of time to do whatever I wanted. This is when I asked about the button pinned to his jacket. It read "GO FLY A KITE." He told me that he was a professional kite flyer and as a matter of fact he was on his way to a kite flying convention in San Francisco.

I think that he was one of the most interesting people I have ever met in my life. He inspired me and helped me to realize that I can do anything I want to with my life. I probably will never see him again, but he made a big impact on me. I don't know what it was about him but I don't think I will ever forget him.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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