Tuesday, March 14, 2017
The Walking Man
I'm not sure when I first noticed the Walking Man.
I imagine my subconscious mind first noted him, and then one day nudged my conscious mind and said, "Hey, have you noticed that guy walking down the street? He's there every day."
Indeed, he was. Every day on the last main thoroughfare to work, there he would be, slowly making his way down the sidewalk. The first thing I noticed about him was that he seemed to walk as if each step was laborious, but he was confident that if he just kept going, he would get where he needed to be.
The next thing I noticed was that he always dressed the same way: black baseball cap, dark sunglasses, black jacket with the strap of a black bag cutting diagonally across, and light blue jeans. The dark colors of his attire made his white facial hair more pronounced.
It wasn't long before I began looking for him each day. Who was Walking Man, I wondered. Where was he going every morning? It didn't look like he was just out for a casual stroll around the neighborhood. Was he on his way to work? To meet someone? And why did he walk slowly? Was he unwell? Had he suffered an injury? Or perhaps he simply wasn't in a hurry?
I wanted to know what his story was. It was more than just idle curiosity. Seeing him every day made it feel like we had some sort of connection. When I didn't see him for a few days in a row, I worried that something had happened to him. I sighed in relief when he reappeared, although I did wonder if he had switched his black jacket for blue because of the spring-like weather. (He was back to black the next day, so I guess that wasn't it.)
It's kind of funny, I suppose, that someone I don't even know has become such a part of my landscape that his absence was noted and fretted about. I am certain that he would never suspect that an occupant in one of the many cars that passes him each day was concerned about his welfare or that she had even noticed his slow progress up the street each and every day. Certainly, he would be surprised to learn that she wondered what his story was and one morning sat down at her computer to write about him.
That's the way it is, though, isn't it? We never really know the impact our lives have on others, even those who are simply passing through.