Double Yellow Wire

Is this the real life?

Is this the real life?

Yesterday I walked to Starbucks for a coffee and walked back in the rain.

I don’t often walk to Starbucks when I’m on campus: the on-campus location is so slow that it is almost a joke and the nearest off-campus location is just far enough away to make the walk inconvenient. There’s a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf right here in the building. The only advantage to Starbucks is the fact that I have a myriad of gift cards to use instead of spending cash. A trip to Starbucks requires the delicate convergence of tightwaddery, low energy but high motivation, and enough time to get there and back before my next scheduled task. These factors make it a rare occurrence. And every time I walk to that particular Starbucks I find myself walking back in the rain.

So I was walking back from Starbucks in the beginnings of a light drizzle. I made it to the light at the intersection of two major roads and found myself waiting at the light in order to cross the street. In the middle of the street was a man wrapped in a grey packing blanket was standing on the double yellow line as traffic flowed past him on both sides. The traffic did not seem to perturb him. He was like a grey bird perched on a double yellow wire, as undisturbed by his proximity to mortal danger as the bird is to the flow of high tension electricity.

There came a break in the flow of traffic and the grey man wandered away from the median towards the sidewalk where I stood. The top of his blanket was folded down like the high collar of a cope (that is, a bishop’s cloak). He didn’t rush: there was no reason to rush. He looked at me. I looked back. His stare was blank: neither friendly nor unfriendly, neither meaningful nor meaningless. Then he looked away and finished crossing the street. Not a word was spoken.

A police car drove down the street that I was waiting to cross. It pulled a U-turn in the intersection and pulled to the curb beside me. Two officers got out. One of them looked at me and nodded. I nodded back. The light changed and I crossed the street. I was curious to know whether the police were related to the man in grey, but by the time I looked back, from the far side of the street, both the man in grey and the police were gone.

Who knows, maybe they hadn’t been there to begin with.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 27, 2015.

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