Friday, October 19, 2007

10-19-07: Snippets

Have you ever been driving down the street and saw some one, either walking, on a bike, or in another car, that you thought “Wouldn’t it be interesting to be in their shoes for a day?” I know it sounds odd, but it occasionally happens to me. Not too often, only when I see some one that I think is interesting. It usually has to do with the look on their face, or what they’re doing.

What I like to do is to keep on moving, but think what they might do next. It’s a strange hobby, but one I enjoy doing every once in a while to lighten things up. I like to give the person a bogus name and think what they do for work or for pleasure. Usually the story takes a strange twist, which makes it even more exciting.

Here’s a real-life example from last week. I saw a guy on a bike on the way home from work, about a ½ mile from the office. He looked to be in his mid to late 40’s. No helmet, and no fear of getting hit by a car as he crossed in front of traffic. Some one almost hit him, and he became visibly upset, shouting “Fuck you!” to the driver of the vehicle, as he kept on pedaling. He seemed like an interesting guy to me, so, as I sat in traffic and eventually drove by him a couple minutes later, I thought of his story.

His name is Jake. He’s an unemployed, black man currently living in Bridgeport. He’s lived a proud life, but today wasn’t one of his better days. There wasn’t really anything particularly wrong with the day, but he just felt lousy. It’s been a month since he was laid off, and he’s running low on rent money. He needs to find a job, but those pricks at the warehouse won’t give him a good reference, and they won’t return his calls. It’s been a frustrating week. Jake has no wife or children, just his friend Ralph, who is also unemployed, but has found some work with his band “The Magic Men,” out of Shelton. Jake has never been a big music guy. Sure, he likes listening to the radio from time to time, but has never really followed any one in particular. He’s always been a hard worker, and has never owned a car because he likes living near work, and sees no reason to have a car when you can feel the road so much better on a bike.

Jake grew up in Bridgeport, and remembers when it was a great city. He hates what it’s become, but is glad to see some things are improving. He misses the parks, though. The new developments are commercial buildings. They could be in any city. But, it’s starting to clean the city up, so he can’t really complain. Maybe they’ll offset some of the high taxes the residents have to pay. Bullshit taxes. What do they go to? Jake gets mad about them sometimes, but realizes that they’re not his fight. All he needs is his bike.

It’s starting to get cooler out, but that’s fine with Jake. He doesn’t like pedaling in the snow, but it beats the heat. He’s always wondered why he always wishes it was cooler out when it was hot, and warmer out in the cold. But, that’s life. Jake doesn’t know why people complain so much, especially the lucky ones. Shouldn’t he have more right to complain? He’s been working his ass off for 25 years, and now what? He’s out of work, and isn’t sure when the next paycheck will come. He’s a proud man, and hates going to the unemployment line. They’re all leaches, he thinks, but he knows there have to be a few guys like him. Today he has to go there, which is probably why he feels lousy.

Jake walks out of his apartment at around 4:15PM to make his way over to the unemployment office before it closes. He’s been making phone calls all day, and hopefully some one will call him back about a job. He decides to take the long way, since he knows he can still get there on time, and he’ll have more fun. He makes his way towards his bike, his companion, and hops on. There are no cars on East Pasadena, which is nice. He hates being cut off by the lucky people. They don’t know what real work is. Push your foot down and let the engine do the work. Lazy. He makes the right on Hooker Road, and heads towards busy Broadbridge Ave.

The traffic on Broadbridge is average for a Thursday afternoon. The people in their cars are on their way home from work, and look happy. Jake keeps on pedaling towards the intersection with Huntington Turnpike, and stops at the corner to wait. Seeing that no one is coming, or at least no one is paying attention, Jake makes his move. The rush of a bit of danger gets him excited. He makes it across just fine, but when he cuts quick to cross Broadbridge, some one in a white hatchback almost hits him, and they lay on the horn. Jake is startled, and angry. It’s been a tough week. He loses his temper for a second. What right do they have? He’s just a guy getting to where he needs to go, just like them. People should be more understanding. He turns on his bike and yells back “Fuck you!” to the driver, and keeps moving. Not the sort of fun he was planning.

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