September 24, 2023 (Reading time: 2 minute)
Yesterday I was confronted by a stranger at the McDowell trolley stop. He was inclined to chat, so I indulged him, and learned he was bound for some bar to watch a college football game. His manner was the striking thing about him: He was fierce, a bit, and seemed a little angry under his skin. He was also unusually open about himself, admitting to a problem with drink and drugs, and gambling. In the course of a few minutes I’d learned this well-groomed guy had spent time in Tampa, LA, and now Charlotte, and was not presently using. I decided that maybe this underlying anger was at himself, to be headed to a bar where he shouldn’t be drinking, and watching a game he shouldn’t be betting on.
I had another striking encounter last night, in one of those dreams that persists on waking. A different stranger inserted himself into my path and task, which was to shift a vehicle and boat trailer at a sandy rustic marina. This fellow had longer, darker hair, and was taller than the angry guy, and his manner was jovial, engaging and friendly, except he was intent on talking me into handing the truck, boat and trailer over to him. He was larceny with a smile. No matter how I countered his intent, he’d smile and shake his head, refusing to get out of the truck, and reaching for the keys in the ignition. Eventually, I ran him off by summoning the boat yard guard.
Over coffee this morning it occurred to me there was some relationship between these guys, and some reason for their persistence; the focus they clearly command for me.
First, the two of them differ from me in many respects, being engaged in action challenges, while I usually pursue duty and observation. I was on a grocery shopping trip when I met Angry Guy, and was doing my job for the marina when Chuckles, the boat thief, showed up. They were, by turns, tempting personal demons of addiction, and thievery, while I sat there, a foil to their actions.
I’m glad to have met them both, if only for the opportunity to reflect on them, and try to capture them in words this morning. They are both characters, the stuff stories are made of, and their choices, however questionable, are full of life and momentum, and remind me to engage with my demons and the world too, and not merely observe.