It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more.
-- Anonymous comedian
This week I came face to face with the worst person in the world. It was scary, unnerving, depressing; well, you get the picture. In a world where the news seems to always provide a viable list of potential candidates, who would believe that person lives right here in our blessed community. I don't know his name, but I can tell you he is about 35 years old, brown hair and drives a white sedan. I wish this column had a happy uplifting message, and if your current state of mind is fragile, stop reading at once, but I feel that I must warn you for your own good.
It happened this weekend. My wife and I were headed to the grocery store. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and we looked forward to some socialization at the store. Believe me, after weeks of being in self-quarantine, this felt like we were driving to a party. We had packed our masks, gloves and hand sanitizer in the car. There was no warning that at that instant we would soon be in the presence of the worst person in the world.
We were sitting first in line at the traffic light, in line to turn left, when I saw the old man. He was waiting to cross the busy street, standing on the crosswalk on the other side. With all the restrictions in place, the normally busy street was quiet. Seeing the road seemingly clear, he decided to make a run for it -- except this pedestrian's running days were well in his past. For my reader familiar with classic television, on The Carol Burnett Show, Tim Conway sometimes played a character called "the oldest man," who always moved in slow motion everywhere he went. (Google it.) That was this guy. The mind was willing, but the feet were not. I guessed his age in the early 90s; he was whip-thin, wearing a flannel shirt despite the heat, pants that were hiked up well over his waist, and he had a shock of white hair. Slowly but surely, he advanced across the street toward me.
He was almost across when the worst person in the world (again stop reading if you need to, this is the bad part) began to bear down on him in the left lane. Seeing the man in his way, he immediately laid on his horn. The old gentleman, doing his best to speed up, looked scared but managed to just scoot by the oncoming white sedan, which was blaring its horn all the while. The worst person in the world now almost stopped his car beside the harried man, which allowed him to clearly see the old fellow. Apparently feeling justifiable outrage, the driver continued to hold his horn down in a malicious frenzy. (Does this guy have a mother?) As the elderly man passed finally just to the side of my car, his face was a frozen look of confusion and panic. In the meantime, our hero in the white sedan drove away, still holding down his horn as if he was the Delta Queen steaming into the port of New Orleans, a taunting grin on his face. "I'm so sorry," my wife shouted to the man out of our window, but the words fell on deaf ears, the look of total consternation remaining fixed on his face as he shuffled out of view.
What can we do when we see something like this? "Three things in human life are important," said the writer Henry James. "The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." And you know, doing that is as simple as crossing the street.
NAN Our Town on 04/30/2020