Out of Place (17/28)

Twice lately I had the opportunity to be a sore thumb.  In the midst of them, I thought, “It’s probably a good thing every so often to be the outsider in some way.”

A couple weeks ago, I walked home from work.  I was decked in my winter gear for the 25-minute trek.  My path took me down and across a short stretch of the #1 highway, along with a few service roads and back streets (not the ones that rock your body).  Part of my way also went through a couple ditches filled with snow, and into the back end of a parking lot for such shops as Future Shop and Home Depot.

Upon re-entering civilization from down in the ditch and up and over a grader-made snow mountain, my “outsider feeling” arose.  It’s like I could feel the questions in the minds of the drivers: Where did that guy come from?  What kind of fellow walks through the ditches anyway?  What’s he got in that bag he’s carrying?

I felt like I was in Narnia, being checked out by SUV’s in place of talking animals.

Now I confess that my over-active imagination may have been running a touch ahead of itself, but it’s amazing how a simple exercise of pedestrian-ing through a made-for-driving world can make you think.

A week or two earlier, I was in a mall.  All I was carrying with me was a book.  My intent was to grab a drink, sit in the food court, and read.  But before I did, I stopped to browse in a video game store.  I’m not much of a gamer–I’ve never played half of the systems that are popular right now, and I don’t even recognize half the game titles on the shelves.  Mario, Mario, where for art thou, Mario?

Actually, he’s still around–in a hundred forms.  But he’s one of the few familiar faces.  And I mustn’t have the look of a gamer, who fits in.

So the store…

I walk in with my book.

And that’s where the outsider role became mine again.  From some of the looks I received, you’d think I’d just walked into a vampire convention with a wooden stake.  People moved out of my way; conversations stopped.  It’s a book; not a bomb!  If you check your game case, there’s probably a baby of the species inside.  They call it a booklet.  Time for the food court–and make it a stronger drink than you were planning on!

It’s a funny feeling being the outsider, but it’s good to feel it sometimes.

I like to think it might teach me how to be sensitive and welcoming to those who find nothing funny about being on the outside looking in.

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