Writing yesterday's post reminded me of one of my favorite running incidents, which happened five years ago. I remember exactly when it happened because my kids were still visiting me then, still affording me status as a human being. (They don't acknowledge my existence now. It's a divorce thing that happens to mostly or only guys, called parental alienation.)
I was out running in bitter cold at 3 in the morning on the main street of my town when I ran by a really strange guy. All of my ex-cop's instincts went onto full alert instantly as I ran towards him.
It was about 20 degrees out and raw, yet he was only wearing blue jeans, biker boots and a tight white t-shirt. I don't remember now whether he actually had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in one of his sleeves. His black hair was slicked back pompadour style.
He was striding down the middle of the sidewalk, marching straight ahead without so much as a glance at me. I watched him carefully as I ran past. I refused to succumb to my fears and run across the street before I went by him. Off down the sidewalk he strode at 3 am as though he was late for a lunch appointment.
I scrutinized the nearby Seven-Eleven as I ran by. It looked normal, and through the window I could see the clerk moving about inside. Mentally shrugging, I ran on and turned down a minor artery.
Six blocks later I ran by a blacked-out stationary police car at an intersection. I don't usually bother with the town police, not even early in the morning, not even to wave to them (thanks for those two speeding tickets, guys), but this time I carefully approached the idling cruiser and paused a few feet away. The woman cop rolled down her window to see what I wanted.
"Excuse me, officer, but I saw something that I thought I should tell you about. I ran by a guy about ten minutes ago who was wearing only pants and an undershirt. It's so cold out, you know, that it was strange."
Her hard look of wariness (what, do I have the information sign lit up again?) changed to one of interest. "We've been looking for that guy! Where did you see him exactly?"
"Headed westbound on the north side of Main at West. Across from the Seven-Eleven."
She rolled up her window without a further word and got on the radio. A moment later she roared off towards Main Street, her overhead lights activated. I watched her go, then continued on, marveling at the scenarios that can unfold sometimes when you run. Even at 3 am.