Thursday, December 18, 2008

Old Man Doing an Old-Fashioned Thing

Just a couple of days ago I was driving home from work. It was nearly dark, and while inching towards the intersection between Telegraph and Huntington I noticed the left-turn lane was devoid of traffic, which was very unusual at that rush hour. Something was happening there, I thought.

Indeed, something was happening there in the form of a man standing in the middle of the lane, waving the traffic away from it. He wasn't wearing a police uniform nor the neon vest characteristic of road workers. A deranged man, I thought, maybe some victim of the current economic slump.

As I drew nearer I saw that it was an old black man in an old black coat. His decrepit Ford was broken down in the middle of the lane, so he'd not only raised his trunk lid to signal trouble but also stepped out of the warmth of his car into the bitter cold of a windy winter afternoon to keep other drivers from getting stuck behind his car. What a lot of trouble to take just so other people wouldn't be inconvenienced.

As I was easing my car past the old man and feeling grateful for his consideration, I watched him closely and thought that somehow his appearance went well with his action. Both were old-fashioned, and both were incongruous with these hustling modern days.

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