World maps

The map seller

The man walking towards me on the other side of the pavement caught my eye and ambled in my path. We stopped and sized each other. He was in his sixties. Being a bit shorter than me, he pushed the flat cap up on his forehead to look at me.

He pointed to a bundle of rolled papers that he cradled under his arm and asked, "Would you like to buy a map?"

They looked like the world maps that populate the walls of primary school classrooms everywhere. I felt my lips curling into a grin. I shook my head, and the grin off my face, and walked past the man. I felt sorry for him. The city is full of desperate people selling merchandise of dubious value. As I waited for the light on the crossing to turn green, I checked Google Maps on my phone to find out how to get to where I was going. What use could I have for a printed map?

But that was the wrong question to ask.

It only occurred to me later -- after the coffee, after the dinner, after I had returned home and turned off all the lights in the apartment except one -- that I had failed to ask the right question.

A map of what?

Image credits.
  • Photo of maps by Ruthie [CC0].

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