Ken Gutberlet

9/16/2001 - I was running late

I was running late. I’m not sure what running has to do with it- I’m always one who likes to fur at the head of the pack- once I get running that is. So, the late thing is the norm. It’s the standard by which people expect things from me. It’s that familiar way it is.
A 6-pack in each hand, I was in my own world as I sauntered along 39th St. I saw the jump starting effort- vintage Tercel coming to aid the spiffy Cavalier. The project was undertaken by one dude- non-Euro complexion, dark hair and ‘stache. Then he spoke with an accent as he asked for help: “Excuse me, sir. Would you mind helping me pout?”
“No, not at all.”
Somehwere, in the settling turmoil inside, there came a question of this guy’s character. What did he really want with me? Was I being set up for some wacked plot? The scariest thing about the situation was that I was thinking these things. From where are these ideas coming? Aren’t I strong enough to realize what went on in NY is not going to manifest itself in Homeland? What a friggin stereotypin’ idiot! Did it effect my behavior? No. Did it effect my view of events and people? YES! That’s the scary part.
“Could you push the gas?”
I set my beer down next to the Tercel- I tried to keep them in view, but I had to do a big twist to really keep an eye on them. But, the area around the cars was free of pedestrian traffics and the mirrors showed no movement from behind. So, I offered some gas, dude hopped into the Cavalier, and it started up- no worries.
I picked up my beer, he thanked me and I picked up my path with a couple steps. I don’t think it was relief that I felt then. It was a pure lack of understanding how and self-disgust that I had those kinds of doubts. We exchanged some smiles and I offered a “good luck with it.” Then I heard him say “oh no!” as he held the jumper cables.
“Would you mind helping me again?”
“No problem. Why did it die?” An answer never came. I set down my beers as he reattached the cables. I guardedly sat back down. Now, the uncertainty had really picked up. On what was it based? There should be no fear in me! The Scottish Rite Temple of Shriners is not a high-profile target for a bombing! This is a pretty elaborate scheme to acquire a couple 6-packs of beer! Have I been jaded that severely by the weeks’ events? Again, the street was clear and the mirrors showed no threats. I more easily judged the severity with which the gas pedal needed encouragement- no high revving dropped back to under enthusiasm to eventually plane at a happy whirr. The thumb came up from the Cavalier’s driver seat and I hopped out. He thanked me again, I wished him good luck and heartily laughed when he kiddingly advised “you better run.”
The Cavalier’s engine was getting a high-rev push as I rounded the corner onto Cloverleaf. I glanced back. There was the Tercel driver’s door open wide blocking the one lane. A car was waiting for oncoming traffic to pass so it could proceed. Me, a 6-pack in each hand, headed up the street. Someone said to a guy walking in front of me, “yeah, it’s a long road.” I looked down the line of rowhomes and realized, yeah, it is a long road. Maybe I better run.