As the ancient pitcher Satchel Paige used to say: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

Sometimes it’s the little things that bother me. Especially before I’ve had my first cup of coffee in the morning.

So this morning I’m walking down the road from campsite, my hair is disheveled, and I’m still a little groggy from the night before. And this car pulls over to the side of the road and parks, and the person gets out of their car and starts following me down the road. Which is fine, except . . . When I get to the football stadium I start walking down this long and narrow and steep flight of stairs. And I can hear the person’s feet klopping RIGHT behind me. And the klopping keeps getting louder and faster as the person keeps getting closer and closer to me. The person is walking very fast. And I’m thinking: WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS PERSON’S BIG HURRY!! and YOU’RE GETTING A LITTLE TOO CLOSE TO ME FOR COMFORT, BUSTER!!

No one ever accused me of being a “morning person.”

One thing that gets ingrained in you when you live on the streets is: “Watch your back.” Literally. And I don’t want ANYBODY sneaking up behind me. Especially when I’m walking down a long and narrow flight of stairs. I mean the person is now close enough to me that, if they wanted to, they could suddenly shove me and send me flying down the stairs and break my neck. Or they could be stupid enough to try and squeeze by me and jostle me as they pass.

So about half-way down the stairs, I stop and turn around and glare at the person. And when I want to, I can stare a laser at another person and stop them in their tracks — my “rattlesnake” look.

It turns out, the person is this young woman, about 20, probably a college student. She gives me an apologetic look, like: “I meant no harm.” And I turn back and resume walking down the stairs. And she wisely slows down her pace and gives me a little breathing room. And when we get to the bottom of the stairs, we both go our separate ways. And that’s that.

Don’t worry, folks. Once I get that first cup of coffee in my, I return to being a human being.

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