I got up early.
I went to bed early, and then I got up early, and then I went outside to run. My plan was to get up early enough so that there wouldn’t be a lot of people out yet and I could work out feeling safe and unobserved.
What’s the word for when the opposite of what you want to happen happens? I don’t think it is quite irony, although that is the word most people use when that is what they mean… anyway, whatever that word is, place it here, because that is what happened to me.
I was walking down the street, not two houses away from my own, and I heard a noise that sounded like someone walking behind me, crunching on the dead leaves that were strewn all over the sidewalk. I thought to myself, you are being silly, it is dark out and you are just making yourself nervous. I kept walking. Two more houses down the road, and I was still hearing the crunch, crunch, crunch of footsteps. Ok, I thought, just peek around so you can see there is no one there and you can stop worrying about it.
I looked behind me.
There was a large dark figure not ten paces away walking towards me.
I gasped, stumbled, and nearly fell over (totally keeping my cool).
Side-note: I live in a really safe neighborhood. When we first moved in I accidentally left my van door open and some teenagers knocked on the door to let us know. I have accidentally left the garage open. There was even one time my partner and I came home to discover the front door was not only unlocked, but open a crack. I am not saying I am going to make a habit of any of these behaviors; I am just giving examples of what kind of neighborhood I live in. (I have lived other places where I wouldn’t dream of being outside after dark, EVER, let alone leaving something open or unlocked.)
So, when I saw a dark figure coming at me from the shadows, I almost screamed and practically tripped over my own feet… and then I started laughing. The man held up his hands in the universal sign of I-come-in-peace and I was able to see he was a slightly overweight, middle aged, nerdy-type. His glasses, shabby hair cut, and shy apologetic smile only made me laugh harder at what a fright he had given me. This was no killer, prowling the suburb streets at dawn, searching for his next victim. He probably had a desk job and a small polite wife with two small polite kids, and he takes walks in the early morning so he can avoid running into other people.
Nevertheless, it was quite an unnerving start to my “safe and solitary” workout.
The rest of the walk didn’t go as planned either. Turns out there are a hell of a lot of people out before the sun comes up. Far too many people, if you ask me. My plan of going unobserved was thoroughly squashed.
I jogged for twenty minutes before I gave up and came home.
But I didn’t give up completely, I ran on the treadmill for another forty minutes after I got home.
And that felt wonderful.