The man charged me like an enraged bull as I walked down the crowded streets of Manhattan. I noticed him more than a block away, sensing him before I actually saw him. He was short, in an open khaki trench coat . . . but with clothes on underneath. So “Flasher” was off the table.
He had wavy blonde hair and seemed to be in his forties. We didn’t really hold eye contact, but I knew for certain he was coming at me.
He rushed down the block so fast that his trenchcoat flew behind him, and as he got about fifty feet from me he shifted slightly to my left. As he passed, he leaned into my ear so closely I could feel his breath blow my hair. Then he screamed a sound that was mostly consonants, something like “Gnnnnnnk.”
I turned to my daughter who was on my right, and said, “What the hell was that?” She was shocked but laughing, and replied, “I have no idea!”
I feared he had spit on me since we passed so closely, so I had my daughter do a spittle check. I was clean.
To this day, I wonder who he was and why he zeroed in on me.
But there was something familiar about him. Maybe he was a crazy relative I’d forgotten about.
A month later we returned to New York, and were waiting in line for a taxi at Penn Station. I was talking to my kids, when my husband jumped in front of me.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Didn’t you see that guy? He was coming straight towards you!”
I didn’t see him, but I think I knew who he was.
I have no idea why I’m sharing this story, except that life is full of wonderful twists and turns.
And although we might find some characters alarming, I love the plot lines that weave us together.
Sometimes I believe we are just one huge multiple-personality, a bit Sybil-like, without the crazy mom who ties us to a piano.
People come in and out of our lives in the most amazing ways.
Maybe my trenchcoat guy was telling me to wake up, to be aware of my surroundings, to realize the privilege of being here.
Or perhaps he was a visitor from another planet planting a chip in my ear. I never thought of that until just now.
Whatever he was, he had impact. The rest of the day I watched everybody lest they charge me and scream in my ear.
I saw the guy playing the guitar in the middle of the street (not the Naked Cowboy, just a semi-naked regular guy). I watched a mom miraculously maneuver three children through Times Square. I observed a young couple kissing at the top of the Empire State Building.
And I thought that we’re like one big DNA strand, each of us making up a small piece of one rung. We stretch and pull and twist, but, ultimately, the role each one of us plays in life impacts every other life on this planet.
We think we’re here alone, when in fact we’re living dominos, standing precariously near each other.
Every move we make impacts some other person in a positive or negative way. I think we need to be more aware of how very tethered we are.
We need to treat ourselves and the characters in our story with more compassion and caring so the greater good can continue to stand tall.
The trenchcoat guy has become a character in my life story, and I think that’s kind of cool.
Now I think I’m going to go search for that chip in my ear.
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