The Odd Little Man

I was having lunch today in a fast-food restaurant, with my head, as usual, in a book. I happened to look up in time to see a little man come into the place. I noticed him because he was walking in a sort of half-crouch. Not the bent-over walk of an old man, but the walk of someone who has been doing the same work for too long that day. It wasn’t pronounced, not a shouting crouch, more of a murmuring crouch. As he came in, he began looking all around the ceiling, as if he expected pieces of it to perhaps come loose and fall. But it wasn’t a crazed moonbat kind of gazing, more like someone who just dug ceilings. He placed his order, and while waiting he noticed this panel of grids separating the tables from the front of the restaurant. Some of the grid squares were empty, some had frosted glass, some had clear glass. He went over and tapped on several of the glass panes. When his order was ready, he got it and left, and as he walked across the parking lot to his car, he held his arms out straight, like he was imagining himself to be a bird, about to take flight.

The odd thing about this man, though, was that watching him never gave you the sense that he was crazy. I thought about this – that the things he did would undoubtedly be categorized as abnormal actions in our everyday world, but that he didn’t really seem abnormal. And then I realized that the reason it didn’t seem abnormal was because he was, for lack of a better term, self-contained. He was just out doing what he wanted to do, and he didn’t really give a damn what I, or anyone else, thought.

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