Wednesday, March 13, 2013

One bad apple

Now that I am breathing clearly again, mostly, I have started running again.  Kinda.  I have been scaling up slowly (one minute run, one minute walk for a mile & the walk back a mile).  I have also rearranged my route somewhat.  Let me go back a bit:

Last year I had a couple mildly unpleasant encounters with one particular old man; I honestly cannot remember if I blogged about it or not.  The gist of these encounters was he would tell me something I was doing wrong such as running on the wrong side of the road (which was odd as I was running against traffic, as I should), or running on road instead of the shoulder (where he started talking about this there was actually no shoulder, the road went right up to a tree line so I don't know what he expected BUT I often do this even when there is a shoulder because of the litter, especially broken glass & when the grass gets long it see hard to see holes that would be happy to trip me or worse), or he would drive by (in a gold extended cab pick-up) & honk & zoom way out around me, like I was in his way.  He was just generally be someone I wanted to avoid. 

Apparently this guy was a well known neighborhood grumpy old guy.  One day after passing the Marine Corps. Flag House (many places along my route have names like this), Grumpy Old Guy jumped out at me (really) & stopped dead in the road & started talking about....something.  I don't know what because I veered out into the road & just went around him without otherwise acknowledging he was there at all.  When I came back down that road, the Marine Corps. Flag House Husband...or Uncle I suppose, was there & beginning with an "excuse me", flagged me down to ask if Old ?Jack?Tom?Billy? (I really don't remember) was bothering me.  I said well, yea, actually he was, whenever I see him he has some unreasonable complaint.  I don't know if I said I thought he was harmless, but the truth is I did & mostly still do.  I suspect he is lonely & has no idea how to interact with people, so he opens with something anti-social & then cannot understand why people avoid him (I m not so very insightful, I have relatives who behave this same way & then complain their grandchildren never call). 

Marine Corps. Flag House Man said he would talk with Grumpy Old Guy's son (our neighborhood is thick with family farms; we might be the only people totally unrelated to anyone in the area).  He also indicated his own children (I have only seen one ?10?11? year old boy tearing round the fenced yard with the dogs, but apparently there are more) had been harangued by Grumpy Old Guy.  I said that would be great actually, as I don't know who this guy is, but some of the things he does are dangerous, like zooming up behind me & slamming the brakes & the horn.  Turns out he had been doing that to Marine Corps. Flag House Kids when they rode their bikes.  Sweet guy. 

I went back to my run & Marine Corps. Flag House Man walking across the street.  Since that day I have only seen Grumpy Old Guy a few times.  I have seen his truck, but he hasn't been behind the wheel (I don't know if this is a new development, the only time I really noticed it before was after he had done something obnoxious).  I sometimes see him in one of two front yards & although he has shouted at me (!), he has never started walking towards me & he certainly hasn't jumped out like he used to.  On the other hand he often shakes his fist at me, one of those "get off my lawn" gestures. 

& now that I know roughly where he lives, I have changed my route to not pass it.  This change isn't permanent; it is along nice shady bit of road & en route to my favorite stretch & once the summer sun hits, I will want to run down there.  On the other hand I hear Grumpy Guy got quite the corking last week, so maybe it won't be that big a deal.  Have I ever mentioned Running Girl?  Running Girl is pre-teen, bone thin & lives for speed.  Foot-speed that is; one run she passed me three times, that is three different points along my route she zoomed up from behind me & went on by.  I have never seen her without Bicycle Boy, who I would guess is in his mid-teens.  Running Girl RUNS, flat out RUNS, she RUNS like a bear is after her & Bicycle Boy rides just behind her, usually in a weaving sort of pattern.  It is very clear he is her escort.  He almost never gets ahead of her, but sometimes he rides up alongside her & they have brief conversations.  Their interactions are familial, there is no other way to describe it; they are either siblings or close cousins or something.  They are clearly both fond of & frustrated with each other.   Neither of them is ever discourteous, but when I see them I move over.  Running Girl hates to stop & it's not like my running is a speed event.  There is one other thing about Running Girl & Bicycle Boy:  Bicycle Boy is black & Running Girl probably isn't.  She has golden skin, but straight loose blondish hair.  The color means nothing, I know, but it is floppy white person hair; she usually wears a pony tail that swings around in a way black person hair just doesn't.  Because of this racial/ethnic/whatever combo, I am 99.9% sure I know which house they belong to; there are plenty of mixed race families in our general area but only one white spouse/black spouse couple near my route. 

So Running Girl & Bicycle Boy are fairly regular fixtures  I don't usually see them when school is in, but week-ends or holidays I am likely to run (no pun intended & not literally) into them.  So it should not have surprised me that Grumpy Old Guy had seen them as well.  & of course, why would his interactions with them be any happier than with me.  Or with Marine Corps. Flag House Kids.

The version I heard was that Grumpy Old Guy shouted at Running Girl & Bicycle Boy & I believe it.  It was implied that is was racial, but no one I talked to knew what was said exactly & given Grumpy Old Man's history I am not sure it had to be, but maybe it was.  Then he threw something at them & maybe he did.  On the other hand I have seen Grumpy Old Guy shake his fist like a Scooby Doo villain which could look like throwing.  It doesn't matter really, except to Grumpy Old Guy who got a visit from the sheriff's department.  A complaint had been made that he threatened two local children & he has been under much closer watch by his family since then (this I have from Marine Corps. Flag House Woman who had it from Grumpy Old Guy's daughter-in-law who has historically been in sympathy with the neighborhood).   Apparently if you yell & jump up & down, that is one thing, but the minute you throw even a newspaper that can be called assault.  Toss in a few racial slurs & you have a legal problem. 

So Grumpy Old Guy got a stern warning.  It was made clear that, given his history in the neighborhood (apparently there had been there had been other calls to the police, specifically about the aggressive driving, but no formal complaint), he could expect a charge next time.  His family does seem to be doing their best to keep him under wraps.  When I drive by either of the two houses, I sometimes see Grumpy Old Guy well away from the road, sitting in a chair, looking around.  He might still yell & throw things but no one walking by would know it.  Whether this will continue to be the case, who knows.  If he does jump out at me again, or shout something or whatever I'm not sure if I want to be the one who calls the cops again.  & for me, the first time.  For now, I am just avoiding that part of the route. 

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