My walks generate a lot of material. I’ve had many experiences that I think, at least, make for some good stories. And I’ve taken more pictures–especially of downtown Indianapolis and of birds, of all things.
I’m discovering, and I know this insight should be obvious, that birds and their nests are everywhere, especially in spring. And it really feels like they are literally everywhere, in the grass and on railings and in trees and shrubs and hidden behind stones and in signs and underneath overpasses. I am continually surprised and delighted about where I find birds.
Homeless people also seem to be everywhere. It’s easy to ignore them. Or maybe I should say it’s habit to ignore them. But when you are out walking everywhere, taking the time to take in details, you start to notice all the places that they camp out at and in.
I’ll have a separate post with some additional photos of birds and buildings, but in this post I just have some stories to share.
Asking me anything
People often like to stop me on my walks to ask me things. I’m not sure why–I must seem some combination of authoritative and innocent, or maybe just harmlessly stupid, so that I’m approachable. Over the course of a week, four people stopped to ask me things.
The first was a woman in an old car with the trunk popped; she asked if I could close her trunk while I passed. I did so, slamming it shut with the side of my palm.
Another woman stopped me on the sidewalk to ask me for directions to the mall. We were half a block from the mall, so the directions were easy. She wanted to know where the Chinese restaurant at the mall was, so I figured she meant P.F. Chang’s and pointed her in the right direction. I do not know if there are other Chinese restaurants at the mall.
A third woman stopped me in the park promenade. She had been piloting a tandem pedal car with her family. They were laughing, and while they were conversing in Spanish and I do not speak Spanish, I could tell that they were pretty amused by the ridiculousness of the ride. The woman asked if I could take a picture of her with her family in the pedal car. She gave me her phone and I took the picture. I asked if the picture was okay, but she seemed nervous now or maybe just embarrassed by it all and quickly brushed me off.
Yet another woman pulled up to me in her SUV while I was crossing the sprawling parking lot to work. She asked where visitor parking was. I had no idea, but I suggested she talk to the police officer parked just a few meters away. She pulled up and asked the cop. I think the conversation went well, from what I overheard.
The fifth person was a man by the bus station downtown. He gave me a rehearsed story about how he was a former athletic star in school and he needed seven dollars to get a bus to somewhere. But I don’t keep cash on me, so I couldn’t help him. I don’t know if I would have given him the money if I could have. I guess I’d like to believe I would. I hope he got his seven dollars, whether he needed it for the bus or something else entirely.
The Angry Senator
One morning I entered the White River State Park Promenade full of energy and joy. Birds were singing and it was a beautiful start to the day. An older woman walked quickly past me with her dog. The dog was well-behaved but I really noticed him. He was big and white, and the top of his snout was long while it looked like his lower jaw was sort of stunted; he had his mouth hanging wide open and seemed pretty pleased with himself, and the overall effect was to communicate a constant expression of “WOW!” I thought he was a great dog.
Once they got through the open gates of the Promenade, the woman let her dog off the leash and took out a ball. She started playing catch with the dog as she walked. He loved it. He’d run off and retrieve it, but he’d jump up on the big stones lining the promenade and look in the hidden nooks as he ran.
I watched occasionally, but I was focused on my own walk.
Then, suddenly, the dog began to bark and growl. I looked over with alarm and saw the dog standing on one of the stones that formed a sort of wall along the path. He was fixated on a spot behind the stone–and just as suddenly as the dog started barking, up popped a homeless man in a state of partial undress, apparently only covered by a bedroll over his lower half. As the dog continued to bark and growl, the woman began to call out, “Senator, come here! Senator, no! Come here, Senator!” Her voice became increasingly urgent as the homeless man froze in place, arms raised, muttering something like, “Dog, dog, fucking dog, dog, dog.”
I kept walking.
The dog backed up a couple paces, and the homeless man continued to mumble, and now the woman’s voice was nearly frantic as she cried, “Senator! Senator! Come here, Senator! Come to me, Senator!”
I kept walking. I was almost past the scene now.
The dog stepped closer to the woman, and the woman stepped closer to the dog, and the dog was now only growling, and the woman reached out and maybe touched the dog’s collar–a gentle gesture–and the dog hopped down, and the woman said, “Good boy, Senator.” And the homeless man said, “Dog, dog, fucking dog.”
I was now past the scene. The woman and the dog began to move forward again. And in the background, as I got further and further away, the homeless man muttered, “Dog, that was a fucking dog, dog.”
And I kept walking.