He came out of nowhere.
It was early in the morning and I was standing on the street corner waiting for the light to change. It felt weird because it wasn’t my part of town. It was downtown and I am a through and through suburbanite – even though I don’t like admitting it. There in my Joe parka and my Globo boots trying to look cool – more like, trying to blend in – I’m sure I came off as exactly the opposite. Uncomfortable.
It was Sunday and downtown is eerie on Sunday. There was no traffic. No noise. Not really any people to speak of…except this guy.
“Is it Sunday?” he asked rather jovially.
I looked at him with what must have been the bitchiest face he’d seen this side of Friday. I didn’t mean to look that way. But cripes…suddenly I wasn’t sure what day it was or where I was either. It’s like the question spun me into his vortex of confusion. We were both swept away in the cold December wind to a place that belonged nowhere.
He was a strange-looking fellow, almost a contradiction. He was dressed for weather, almost nicely…sporty… but his skin, which I could just see behind the enormous smile on his face, was worn. I don’t think he had all his teeth either (or maybe I’m making that up). I decided that he must have come from the park just up the street. The park where the druggies congregate on Saturday night. The park that used to be busier when the beer store was across the street. That’s what I was told by those who know these things, anyway.
Do I answer? Do I answer or walk away? Do I turn my face and pretend I didn’t hear him? What do I do?? WHAT DO I DO NOW???
“Yup. It’s Sunday.”
“Thanks. Wow! You must have thought that was a pretty weird question.” he laughed as he passed me.
I couldn’t help it. I smiled back. “No. No, I can see it happening.”
I cringe. That must have sounded so sarcastic. GOD! When is this light ever going to change?
He was gone and I was alone again. Just me and the wind. And a sudden shame. He only asked a simple question. He was polite. He was harmless.
How do I know he didn’t just get off a night shift and wasn’t just going home to his family? I’m not so street smart – I’m not street smart at all – that I can call these things and feel smug that my judgement was correct. Who was I to judge?
Maybe he told his buddies, when he met them for coffee at the diner up the street, about this strange woman at the corner who could barely answer what day it was…wonder what she was doing waiting on that corner! Wink, wink…