Weirdness Before Breakfast
So I'm driving to work today, headed down River Road which, you guessed it, runs right along the river, Allegheny version. It's not a heavily traveled road, since it sort-of dead-ends and if you want to get into downtown proper you have to do some tight rightys and lefties and before hopping across a bridge. That's where I work, where my company has a big factory, where there are a number of newly-built upscale apartments. What foot traffic you see is usually wearing the same ID badge I wear.
Except for today. As I approached my parking lot this figure in the distance walked into the middle of the road and started frantically waving his hands. As I got closer I saw that it was an old man wearing dark blue coveralls. When I say he was "old", I mean that he was eighty if he was a day. Maybe older. He actually got into the road, blocking my path. I, unlike the swerving drivers ahead of me, stopped.
He walked up my passenger door with a big grin on his face. His teeth, which were both false and loose, wobbled in his mouth. I did something smart, for a change--I didn't unlock my door. Instead I rolled down the window and asked what was wrong.
"I need a ride into town", he said with some difficulty. Still had a big smile on his face. He wore glasses with lenses so thick it was like looking at his eyes through an aquarium. Now, I wasn't going into town. I don't think I was going into town if it'd been a quartet of Swedish airline hostesses late for a pillow fight. I was late for work as it is. So I explained that I wasn't going into town, I was parking right there, and I pointed at the lot.
He tried the door, found it was still locked, and I explained again that I was sorry but I wasn't going into town. He sort-of slumped, nodded, and suddenly ran behind my car. To try to cut off the SUV barrelling down at us. The moron on the SUV didn't even slow down--he glided left to avoid the old man, gunned the engine to pass me, and disappeared into the distance. I eased forward and cut into my lot. Just as I did, I looked in my rear-view mirror. The old guy (and, to emphasize, he was OLD old) was running--yes, running--toward town. Chances are he could've walked there in 20 minutes, my not giving him a ride really wouldn't have saved him much time. Especially the way he was picking them up and putting them down. Watching him jog pathetically down the road made me feel like a heel.
It's such a cinematic cliche--the hero (or villain) runs out in the street, flags down a car, gets in, and so begins the chase. I wonder what storyline I failed to advance by not giving him a ride. What the hell was he doing there at 8AM? Why the urgency to get to town? Why the blue jumpsuit, which when I saw him at a distance made me think he worked in one of the factories (though they usually wear all white)? It wouldn't stretch the imagination much to think of him as an escapee from an asylum of some sort, and there is a hospital just up the road...I don't know. No one else I knew saw him. It's a mystery.