Today is like any other “usual encounter” days. It just so happens that it’s also Sunday. Usual encounter used to be just plain odd, weird, random, unusual collision of fates–with strangers. I’m not sure what it is about me. . .perhaps it’s my aura or something about my demeanor that strangers would often gravitate towards me; most of the times, it’s street beggars putting their puppy face on, asking for monetary assistance. Then there are cases where strangers would come up to me to ask if they could borrow my phone to call a buddy of theirs (reasons unknown). And they always seem to know when to strike–during morning rush, the stroll home, or even when I’m trying to replenish my body with food. Today is just one of those days.
I was heading towards a local gas station with an am/pm store, just a block away from where I live. On my way there, I saw a short guy with a baseball cap, baggy pants, and what seemed to be a black overcoat or just a regular coat reaching almost at knee-length; this guy was chatting it up with a middle-aged looking Asian man, holding a bag of groceries. As I cross the street, their conversation breaks and the short guy tuned his attention to yours truly. I didn’t make eye contact but, felt a signal, tunneled towards my direction. I finally made it to the corner, walked pass by him and heard an inquiry.
He asked for the time. I didn’t have my cellphone with me and had in mind to tell him that but, words were jumbled inside my head as it is my first exposure to the outside world since coming home from work on Friday. I was stumbling in search of the words, I muttered that I don’t have a clock, followed by a visual gesture pointing at my wrist, he laughed and was confused to the point where the f-word spilled out from his mouth, naturally it flows–until I deflected with an ‘aha-moment’–yes, finally! Excited and disappointed at the same time, I told him that I didn’t have my cell phone with me; elated that I managed to say the words and disappointed. . .in myself for taking a while looking at rows of random letters in my head, like a word search puzzle. He introduced himself to me, Richie shook my had and asked where the fuck he was. Where he was? How did he even get there in the first place? I asked where he was trying to go. He just said that he’s looking for a place to hangout. He then asked if I smoke weed. I was hesitant. I told him I’m not a casual weed-smoker, I’d only take a puff when I’m around people who has a roll ready at hand. I can’t even remember the last time I took a hit. He then continued to interrogate and asked where the closest park is located. I told him a couple of directions. He shared nonchalantly that his sister died today and just looking to chill. He asked if I have any cash with me. I looked at him closely, trying to read between the lines, searching for the lie out of the comments he stated. He was calm, perhaps a little tipsy but I couldn’t sniff the alcohol or tell from his stance that he’d been consuming some. I looked at him again and saw the tattoo marks peeking up from his crew neck shirt; it could be a phrase or someone’s name traced across his chest. I looked at his dark eyes while he was screening at the surroundings. If his sister died today, shouldn’t he be with her? If he doesn’t know where he is, again I asked myself, how did he get here? He knew there was nothing I could do. He forfeited and made a step to the side, by the bushes. He told me that it’s nice hanging out in that particular spot, to then share that he’ll proceed finishing his beer. I smiled and turned my body back to my route. He bid farewell. I told him to take care and finally got to the store like nothing happened.
Everywhere I go, every corner I take, it seems that encounters like these, are not random at all–the more I think about these type of scenarios I experienced, is as if some entity out there is trying to test me. I’m not certain of the goal or lesson behind these type of assessments. After all, I was never an excellent test-taker. I only do well when I’ve fully prepared for it and/or know exactly the type of questions to answer. Perhaps when I encounter another one like this, I’ll know what to do.