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Knives Everywhere

Posted October 5th, 2016 at 11:07 AM by Sylvano the Wasabus
It was a beautiful morning for walking. Itís supposed to be a hot day but this morning was cool with a light breeze. It takes me about forty minutes to walk to work so I have to leave early which means the streets are pretty deserted. Good walking.

I could see him from a distance as I neared the university. Itís a nice place to walk through because itís all pedestrian and there are lots of big trees. Itís also a short cut. He was sitting on a bench, wearing dark glasses and watching the cars in the intersection a couple dozen feet away.

Ever get a vibe that there is something wrong with a person? I got one from this guy. Was he homeless? Maybe. He had on a light jacket, baseball cap and long pants. He had a backpack with him. Who wears long pants and jackets on summer mornings? Homeless people. But I could have been wrong. Maybe he was just a cold student. Students have backpacks. I had one on my back myself.

I like walking through the university but I do consider terrorists and shootings, which seem to be frequent now. I look at peopleís hands. Now days everyone has something in their hand. Is it a phone or a gun? Sometimes itís hard to tell. Iím not paranoid, just careful.

The guy on the bench gave me a bad vibe and had something in his hand. His back pack was beside him. There were other people walking around and the bench guy seemed to be sitting quietly. The thing in his hand looked like a phone. I decided to not alter my course and walk by him.

I also chose not to look at him. Looking at someone can be perceived as a threat, or a trigger. I took one quick glance to double check the hand and now it looked like a knife, maybe. But I was already committed so i looked straight ahead and kept walking.

ďF@@k You!Ē He screamed. ďUnderstand?!Ē

A surge of adrenalin hit me and I let it show. My shoulders went back, my hands moved in readiness and my face changed from walker to wide-eyed bear. I was not going to go down without a fight. I mumbled some growling nonsense words. I donít know if he was shouting at me. I donít know if he was watching me. Of course he was. Iíd triggered his outburst.

F@@k you, heíd shouted. Understand? And I did understand. His brief outburst was filled with all the rage, anxiety and hopeless helplessness that filled his life. Reality had somehow gotten away from him, perhaps because no one had told him that you have to fight for your place in the world. He had the fight in him now, but it was too late. The world had already spun past and left him behind. He was angry as he watched all of us walk past him, all of us going somewhere, work or school while he had nowhere to go but down.

This all took about two seconds. Up ahead on the sidewalk a young man and woman were looking back at me and for a moment it seemed they thought I was the shouter. I walked past them and the young man was on the phone. He was calling the police. He was describing the location, saying the man had a knife. They were so bored and calm it was offensive. Was this something they did every day?

I would not have thought of calling the police. For one I donít have a phone, and two I often respect peopleís personal struggles. The bench shouter was having a breakdown. Maybe he had a knife. Maybe he didnít. He was confused, and now that the police were coming he was going to end up even more lost. He will be bullied and herded and goaded by the veiled knives of the uncaring court system, and likely dumped someplace else in a day or two. He will accumulate a list of offenses that will drag him down until he has no hope of anything else. In our imagined compassionate society those who stumble are trampled and left behind.

Iím sorry buddy, I was of no use to you today.
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