Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Invisible Man

I see them--usually two, but sometimes three--headed my way. Of course, they have crossed the invisible line that separates my side of the sidewalk from their side, so technically, I have the right of way.

But they don't seem to care. Or else they don't seem to notice me. It is hard to tell which without reading their minds. And, since I lost my metallic mind-reading cap with brain-wave sensing antenae years ago, I have to just presume they don't notice me.

They come closer, only a few paces away. But this time it will be different. This time I will prevail. I walk taller, eyes forward instead of glued to my toes, as I normally would be. Three steps remain, then two, then...I step out of the way.

Once again, I lose this game of chicken. I glance behind, and their conversation is uninterrupted. I look at my own arms, to make sure I haven't suddenly turned invisible, but I'm most definitely not transparent.

I don't know what it is about me. But I've had this problem since I was in Junior High. Whenever I would walk through the hallways, down the sidewalk, in the aisles at a store, invariably I'm the one who must move out of the way so that the other person or people can walk by. Sometimes it is simply a sidestep to the right or left. But never, in all my years, can I think of a time that the other party didn't initiate the move.

Perhaps I'm just overly aware of this, but it has recently frustrated me to the point to where I decided I'm going to take a stand. I'm going to fight for my right to walk along the sidewalk without being the wimp. After all, I'm thirty-three years old. I've paid my dues. It's time for everyone else--anyone else!--to step aside for once.

During my recent trip to Cedar Point, I had the perfect opportunity, too. Yet, once again, at the very last possible moment, where literally centimeters separate us from colliding, I stepped aside.

I'm too polite, I suppose. If I didn't move, we would bump shoulders, at which point I imagine the other person turning to me, shoving me, telling me to watch where I'm going, threatening to give me a nose job or something. I can't handle the pressure. Because, yes folks, I am a wimp.

I would like to understand the rules, however. Why me? A few months ago, I was walking with a friend of mine at work. We came upon another gang of walkers walking the opposite direction. They were hogging the hallway, of course, the two of us resorting to single file in order to squeeze past. So, I figured, I would follow in my friend's wake. The gang would move out of his way, and I'd be safe.

The gang did move out of his way, pressing together like an accordian. My friend didn't have to move at all. I guess he just had the right presence or something. But this is what gets me...the moment they passed by him, they spread out again. I was only three steps behind, and they moved back into my way. I held my own, though...if holding your own means twisting sideways and pressing yourself against the wall.

I swear I'm the Invisible Man again, but like before, I can see myself quite clearly, so maybe I'm only invisible if viewed from outside myself. It is the only logical conclusion I can come to.

But I won't take it anymore! I will prevail. So step aside, people of the Earth. Ryan Bruner is going to stand up for himself. He won't be chicken any longer. At least, not until I brush up on my karate...just in case.

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