In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cause, Meet Effect.”
Found this little challenge and decided to take it up since the other thing I was going to write about today was much longer and a lot less interesting, not to mention introspective and thought provoking – which does not always make for a great read. Anyway, on with the cause and effect:
The morning began with an unwanted knock on my bedroom door which jolted me awake from a dream I have long since forgotten. It was my son, asking if I was ready to take him to work. He only has a learner’s permit and thus must have a licensed adult with him in the vehicle. This led to my sudden recollection that he had to be at work at 10:30 a.m. and I should, in fact, be awake, dressed and ready to take him to work.
Thus I slid reluctantly out of bed, put on my socks (let’s not get into my love of socks and yet my refusal to wear them to bed) and slipped into my jeans and long sleeved shirt. Half awake, I left the house and I hopped into the passenger seat of my son’s truck and leaned back against the seat with the hopes of not losing my tiredness before I returned home.
We drove to his work which is in fact, in a different city than where we live but is only an 8 minute drive. Small town areas are like that. Once he exited the vehicle, I too exited the vehicle and walked, zombie-like, to the driver’s side and took my place in the driver’s seat. Driving off, I made my way back onto the main road and came to an almost immediate stop at the nearby traffic light.
It was here, in the early daylight hours of a still frost covered city, that I noticed a raggedly clad man wandering slowly, almost without purpose, across the main road. He held in his hands a Walmart bag – no doubt from the Walmart across the other side of the main road. The bag appeared to contain something, although I had no idea what, only that it was a dark object.
This man appeared to be homeless. I say this because often homeless people are seen in this area where the main road crosses over the interstate below and they often dress as this man was dressed. The man eventually made it across the main road. On the other side, there was an overturned shopping cart from Lowes (which is on the right hand side of the main road.) The cart was empty, overturned and abandoned, much as the city was in this hour of a Sunday morning.
Almost all visible cars in the area could be seen huddled together as if against the cold in various church parking lots. People were nowhere to be seen. These people were huddled together in their churches praying to their gods in warm comfortable pews.
The man, on the other hand, was bearing the cold with his bag in hand. He came to the shopping cart and stopped. I wondered if he would turn it upright and take it with him. He did not. What he did was set his bag down atop the cart. Then he walked off toward the interstate exit. I sat unmoved, still waiting for the ghost traffic light to turn green. I say ghost because there were no other cars which would make my light’s being red reasonable.
My attention captivated by the now left behind bag, I couldn’t help but wonder what was inside. Why had he left it? Why had he carried it across the road if he was merely going to leave it behind on this cart? Why not place it in one of the many trash cans scattered throughout the store parking lots on either side of the road? Was this man in his right mind? Perhaps he wasn’t thinking clearly and was confused, so confused that he had no idea where he was or what he was doing.
Briefly, I considered pulling into the parking lot and examining the contents of the bag. I considered pulling into the parking lot, going to retrieve the bag and return it to the man in case he did need what was inside and was too confused to realize this fact. Then reason returned and I knew my attempt to deal with this unknown man could possibly result in an altercation if he was mentally ill and violent, or possibly drunk or if my interference in his activities would incite anger. What was I thinking? Was I out of my mind?
As the traffic light turned green, I drove slowly toward the cart and was stopped just past the cart at the next intersection. Yes, there are three intersections less than 200 yards apart at this location. I was still studying the man when he suddenly turned around, as if remembering something, and walked back to the cart. He retrieved the bag. He didn’t open it or look inside, just walked back to the cart, grabbed the bag, and returned to his walking toward the interstate.
The light turned green and the next and final light in the stretch was green as well. I drove the remaining few minutes home and contemplated what was in the bag, why had he set it on the cart, what had changed his mind about the bag, and who was this man, where was he going, where had he come from? These thoughts filled my head until I arrived home, exited the truck and walked inside where my cat was waiting to greet me and beg for food that she would look at and walk away from until later when she felt like eating it.
As the day went on, I managed to return to sleep and get in a few hours of a nap. Eventually I made dinner and went about my nightly activities. It wasn’t until the following morning when I had to make a necessary trip to the store for a few items that I realized, in my distraction with the man by the road, that I had neglected to stop at the store on my way home from taking my son to work. Sunday was the last day of the sale on raspberries, they had been 5 for $5. Now they were 2 for $4.
And there you have it. The fascination with the man and his bag cost me a buck. I ended up spending a dollar more on raspberries, which I simply must have with my yogurt in the mornings, than I would have had the man not had the bag.