An ESC! Magazine Editorial

April 10, 2001

Odd Moments In Life

by Michael R. Potter

Sometimes the strangest things inspire me to write. As I walk from my office downtown to the train station each day (about a mile), I often lose myself in thought or notice something that causes me to wonder....

Odd Moment One

There was this guy in the train terminal who was standing thisclose to a steel pillar. I mean he was standing really close! And he was just staring forward -- directly into the pillar. For a brief moment I thought he was using the pillar as his personal toilet even though the bathrooms are 20 feet away, but he turned and walked away a moment later and there was no puddle left in his wake. So what was he doing I wonder? Most people probably didn't even notice him. Perhaps this is what he hoped for. Maybe he was doing something as simple as "zipping up" because he realized the "barn door" was open. Maybe he was resting his head against the pillar because it felt nice and cool. MAYBE he was using the steel pillar as an antennae to contact his home world. Whatever the reason, I, of all people, saw him standing there right next to the pillar before he walked off. Just one of those odd moments in time that I know will never be lived again. A moment that must be put into words no matter how odd it may seem.

Odd Moment Two

There was another gentleman standing outside of the train station one day. He seemed a normal guy. I don't know and I won't judge based solely on his clothes, but, if I were to judge, I'd say he was probably homeless. In any event, he asked some dude who happened to be walking about 5 feet to my left some question. I couldn't hear the question and I couldn't hear the response. Then he said something directed at me -- I don't know what, as it was mumbled. I assume it was directed at me since I was the only one around within a 10 - 15 foot radius. The thing is, he was standing approximately 8 feet from me and I was still moving forward. Certainly NOT within normal conversational distance and not in my personal space by any means. Since I didn't know him from Adam, I chose to ignore this man and continue walking. At this point, however, he raised his voice and very clearly directed at me "Hello? Hello?" As if to indicate my utter rudeness and distain for my fellow man by not choosing to hold discourse with him in the first place. I kept walking.

So, in retrospect, the question comes to mind: Was he in distress? Perhaps he just wanted the time? Was I, in my rush to board the train coupled with my decision to ignore this man actually becoming that which I despise -- a rude city worker? A yuppie without enough compassion for my fellow man to at least stop and hold a -- however brief -- conversation with this man? He may very well have been a scraggly computer programmer who recognized me from some conference I've gone to in the past. It certainly possible. It's possible that he was a long lost friend recognizing a friendly face in mine and choosing to call out in the hopes of reliving the glory days of high school. It's possible he wanted to drag me into the street in front of an oncoming bus!

I will never know the answer to these questions as I am certainly never going to see this man again. I could, of course, justify it with the knowledge that he was probably just asking for money. Money that I would not give to him. He was merely begging for change instead of finding a "real" job. Would this justification be correct though? What will I do in the future should I find myself in this same situation?

I wonder....

Thanks for listening!

Michael R. Potter
ESC! Magazine