He stopped at the curb to press the crosswalk button, casually swinging his briefcase as he checked both ways for traffic. Any second now he’d set the briefcase down to tie a shoe or adjust his jacket. Wait… wait… and there it was. Today he tied a shoe. The light turned green and I drove through the intersection glancing at him one last time as he stood to pick up his briefcase. He nodded slightly as I passed. I raised one hand from the steering wheel.
I leave for work very early in the morning. Almost every weekday for a of couple years now I’ve seen this same lone man at the same empty intersection at the same early time of day. We each wake up to carry out our daily routines unconcerned, and mostly unaware, that the other exists except for that thirty seconds or so each morning at the intersection. He generally approaches the corner about the time I come to a stop at the light.
That early in the morning he’s the only pedestrian and I’m the only car. I forgot who began to wave first, but after months of early morning crossings it just seemed silly not to. He’d become as much a part of the landscape for me as the row of trees by the school, the yellow house with the picket fence, or the bridge over the creek. Their constant presence is an odd reassurance that all is right and routine. On rare days when he wasn’t at the intersection, I wondered where the man might be. He’d reappear the next day and all would be normal again. I laugh at myself for noticing such things but I suppose others do too. It’s not just me?
And it isn’t only the man with the briefcase. A rusty white van pulls out in front of me at the next corner. Further along, two black labs do their early morning romping behind a fence. A man in a red hat hoses off the sidewalk in front of an office building. Over time I began to notice these things and soon actually watched for them.
Each evening going home I walk past a woman smoking a cigarette under a tree out back. The security guard at the parking garage sings loudly to himself. Back in the car and I pass the same food truck along the same stretch of road every day. Closer to home and those two black labs are either lying in the shade or barking at squirrels. Those routine sights in my personal landscape satisfy something, I’m just not sure what. It’s not just me?
A while back, returning to work after a few days of vacation followed by a long weekend, I eagerly checked off my daily landscape markers. The briefcase, the dogs, the sidewalk washer, all there as usual even though I’d been gone a while. That evening on the way home I saw the woman light her cigarette and head towards the tree out back. I laughed again at myself for even noticing, but she was, after all, a part of my daily landscape.
As I neared the tree on my way to the parking garage I wondered if the security guard would still be singing after all of my days away from work. That’s when I heard the woman’s voice.
“Hey.” she said as took a puff of her cigarette. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
It’s not just me.
Stuart M. Perkins
146 responses to “Watch For It”
Loved this! A need for routine and an attention to detail, yes; but also a need to connect to others whether you know them or not. It’s not just you!
Hi, loved this piece!! I just put out a post myself. It is about personal self-discovery and reimagination through the ultimate death of my perceived ideal of success. I’d love some feedback
That was a very interesting read, you’ve a talent for writing.
Wonderfully engaging! I couldn’t stop reading … and …. identifying with it.
I love this piece. You remind me to be observant–and that there might be some order to the world through which we journey.
Thanks for stopping by my blog, Cancer Hits the Streets!
I would love to leave a note about same experience. Sure, I have it. I would love to say: “it’s good”, but you got it already. Nothing much to add apart of a tiny smile and a nod of a head.
Your story is part of my podcast this week, http://kriskkaria.podbean.com/e/incredibly-horrible-dating-tips/. Thanks so much for letting me narrate it!
wp should have a “love” button. I just loved this so much!
Thanks for that!
As ever, a brilliant story.
So simple…so powerful
Thank you again Stuart. Your writing moves me. A joy to read.
Tom Yost – “yerpalty”
Your stories make me smile – real, human, joyful.
This is really nic😻
loved it. no, it’s not just me either 🙂
And here I was thinking it was just me 🙂 beautifully written Stuart!
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I thank you!
Thanks for such a great compliment! We all write because it’s fun but we surely want to be read too and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the posts. Thank you again!
I enjoyed how well you show the story here, especially a story that is so routinely relatable to everyone. Most would drudge through just to finish a piece like this but you made it entertaining and invoking. Impressive.
Thanks for that! A great compliment and I appreciate it.
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