The other day, I went to the Cathedral Village – that’s where all the interesting people go.
I was stepping out of my vehicle when I looked up and saw the back of a man approaching. I thought he was walking away, at first, but then I saw that he wasn’t. He was going along at a normal gait; he must have had a remarkable amount of confidence in his ability to walk in a straight line and in the goodness of his fellow man – I would’ve been worried about someone sticking their foot in my path.
He looked dismal, his eyes fixed on the sidewalk in front of him – which was also the sidewalk behind him, sort of. His head hung at an uncomfortable-looking angle, and he had one of his hands shoved half into his coat pocket. Everything about him was sad but otherwise unremarkable. Everything except the way that his body faced the direction he wasn’t headed in.
I watched him come and I watched him go, down the sidewalk, across the street, and around the corner. He barely made eye contact with me as he passed. He didn’t smile or nod. He was distracted, to be fair. I wondered if he was distracted by the way that he was walking, or if he was walking that way to distract himself from something else. Maybe he had discovered, once upon a time, that walking backwards was an effective coping mechanism when life became dreary or overwhelming. Or maybe he was just a big weirdo.
A shop owner was out in front of his store scraping the snow away from his door. I made a face at him that said, “Did you just see that too?”
But either the shop owner didn’t see it or the shop owner didn’t care or the shop owner didn’t feel like bonding with me over someone else’s public display of peculiarity, so the shop owner averted his eyes, finished his job, and went back inside.