April 1, 2013

The Old Man and His Dog


I believe that, in every neighbourhood, right next to us, there live some of the most eccentric and mysterious people. Their behaviour, actions and appearance deviates from what you might call the norm. By “the norm” I don’t mean to evoke a clichéd image of a businessman or a housewife. For me, personally, the concept of the norm is something vague. It’s not appearance, but the ability to give the people that surround me the ability to live without noticing me. Yes, I like it when people don’t notice me. It’s not that I do anything special to achieve that. I just like to be able to observe and enjoy the world without suffering from any intrusions.

Almost every day, I see a skinny, well-dressed old man who goes for a walk with his white dog. Even when I day passes and I don’t get to see this pair, I know for sure that we just missed each other. Or, on that particular day, we ended up in different parallel realities.

The white dog always runs in front of the old man, off the leash. If you can’t see the man yet, then the sudden appearance of the dog signals that he is about to show up from around the corner.
The old man usually picks stuff up from the road or the sidewalk. At first, I figured that he found something worthwhile. Then I took a closer look and realized that he picks up garbage. Candy wrappers, plastic bags, useless scraps of paper. Our neighbourhood is quite clean but, it seems, it does not match the standards of this old man. He even picks up cigarette butts.

One time, at the end of February, as I was coming home, I ran into the white dog and I was just about ready to see the tall, scrawny figure, which has a habit of holding his head a little to the side. But the old man did not appear. Instead of him, out walked a young, tall woman in an elegant black coat. I could hardly keep myself from walking up to her and asking what happened to her father. For some inexplicable reason, I was sure that my guess was correct and this was the daughter of the old man. I even looked at her departing silhouette for a while. It’s silly, but I waited for her to start picking up the trash from the sidewalk, with a hand clad in a beautiful leather glove.

 Yesterday evening, when my husband and I were returning from our walk by the lake, we saw the old man and the white dog running in front of him. He resumed his tireless work of bending down and picking up objects that other people do not need; that did not deserve anybody else’s attention; that exist only for the old man and his white dog. Why does he do that? 

Maybe someday I will gather up the courage to strike a conversation with him. Although, I think, he might be of the same category of people as I. If we’re doing something, it’s for ourselves, and not because we wish to be noticed.


7 comments:

  1. Hi Olga

    Why is it, that we are to scared to approach a stranger-even though we see this person every day for weeks? To introduce ourselves? To strike up a conversation?

    Instead, we keep our distance.

    Why?

    I hope one day you do engage in a conversation with this gentleman and his white dog.

    Cheryl

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting...
    Best regards from Paris,

    Pierre

    ReplyDelete
  3. Один из "кабелей" уклонился от нужного направления. :-)
    Ольга, мне очень понравился этот текст. А этот джентльмен с собакой вас замечает? Вы как-то приветствуете друг друга при встречи? Возле нас живет одна глухонемая старушка, она всегда приветствует меня при встрече, поднимая свою опорную трость. Если я ее долго не вижу, уже начинаю беспокоиться. А ведь мы совсем не знакомы. :) Да и заговорить с ней не представляется возможным...

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  4. Perhaps he feels it is his civic duty to collect the rubbish that others carelessly leave behind.
    I have spoken to complete strangers when I have been shopping, with some people it seems completely natural,it can begin by just helping them with their parcels, like the elderly Polish man I speak to each time I am at the shopping centre. He is lonely, his family live far away and I enjoy his conversation and he seems to enjoy mine.
    xoxoxo ♡

    ReplyDelete
  5. Go on, be a devil. He'd probably be pleased to have the human contact. The conversation of dogs is rather limited. :)

    ReplyDelete
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