The Pedestrians | Teen Ink

The Pedestrians

May 6, 2019
By Amehja PLATINUM, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Amehja PLATINUM, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
20 articles 4 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning." ~ Mark Twain


In a severely understaffed not-so-super market where only two registers were open at a time on a Saturday morning, I saw some very peculiar people. Or rather the peculiar ones I saw on the way walking there. I was making my way to the crosswalk when I saw the first strange one. Across the street from me there was a bus stop with a little bench where two middle aged women sat discussing womanly things with feminine mannerisms; crossing and uncrossing their legs, proffering their hands and pontificating upon the ordinary.

Adjacent to them stood an elderly man. He had sat his grocery bags on the sidewalk and was gesticulating in a manner similar to the women's. But there was no one there. He was talking to air, an empty space. I asked my mother, who was walking with me, if what my eyes saw and what my mind conjectured was true, and she said “Yes.” Now that's just the start of it!

As soon as we had crossed the street, and were making our way down the block to turn into the parking lot of the market, I had been accosted yet again by the outlandish. Walking toward me was a very crooked woman. She had a crooked neck and a crooked, hunchbacked walk and she too was burdened by groceries. With the bags in her left hand, she seemed to lean to the right in compensation for the impedimenta. This was no ordinary leaning—I tell you—I mean, she looked like a seesaw! Her dress was eccentric as well; the most strange aspect of it being her facial accessory. She wore bright, reflective neon blue rectangular sunglasses which covered a third of her face. Who was this woman? Who was this woman who walked so crookedly down the street with glasses I was sure she could barely see out of and that I could barely peer at from their sharp glare? We soon passed each other and then I saw the details of her leathery skin; she had a very bad tan.

The shopping was uneventful save for the most adorable toddler, a sweet milk chocolate confection of laughter and innocence skipping about the market, giving his parents both a hard time and a laugh.

When mother and I were walking out of the market it was not a revolting person I saw, but rather their waste. That's right, a dirty used diaper was thrown in the mulch garden surrounding the parking lot. And there was a trash can only a few steps away. You couldn’t make this up!

I had thought that that would've been the end of it. It all very unreal. But that was not the end of it. Mother and I encountered a wretched little man after crossing the street at that same crosswalk as we were walking home. It was like that place was a magnet for the mad and bizarre! Anyhow, this man was the physical manifestation of Mr. Hyde. He had a bowl cut and the hair was completely gray, and somewhat balding at the top. He wore an over-sized dark green jacket that went down to the top of his knees. His pants were black and baggy. All of his attire seemed to be stiff and bulky, and I imagine—thinking back now—that if I’d touched them, they would’ve felt has hard as rocks. But if I caressed those sordid garments—if I got close enough to touch them—I imagine he would’ve grabbed me with those calloused stubby hands and his face would’ve be mean and scary like...Yosemite Sam’s. The man, or creature, just dawdled—wandered about, picking up paper trash.

I forgot to mention, the shopping was not as uneventful as I first intimated. I remember now, looking back at the notes I took—you know I had to take notes on these strange people; they were numerous—there was one woman in the store dressed in a very tight, knee length leopard print dress. It was a very loud outfit. As she walked pass me in the aisle, I looked down at her high heels, which had ankle straps, but the straps were not clasped. So the heels just flipped flopped like flip-flops. I would say sandals instead, but sandals is a broad term for footwear. I think flip-flops are always sandals but sandals are not always flip flops; like with the same kind of relationship with shapes: a square is always a rectangle but a rectangle is not always a square.

Anyway, back to the trip. Chronologically, after meeting Mr. Hyde, mother and I went to get ice cream. We still had to go to the corner store, so we went on walking at once after we finished our snacks. As we walked down the block towards the corner store a somewhat elderly, but not wizened, woman passed us.

You’ve heard of crazy cat ladies. Well there is such a thing as crazy dog ladies. Because dogs suck sometimes, too. At least cats clean themselves—but anyway. She was wearing a black knee high skirt with a red cardigan and a red hat. Bright red. Her shirt was quilt-patterned and grandmotherly. Now, you’re probably imaging that in your head—add this to it: leggings, red and white nails-head patterned leggings. They were not very fashionable and I would not be caught dead wearing them. I thought that was strange particularly because it was kind of warm outside—but in the moment I supposed the woman got cold easily, being elderly and all.

Okay, so we have the woman. I should add that this woman, along with Mr. Hyde, is one of the strangest people that I saw today. This woman had her dog with her. She had her dog with her but she was not walking it. I repeat: she was not walking it! So what was she doing? What do you imagine she was doing with it? She had it in a wagon. A wagon—I tell you! And this wagon was not the typical plastic red wagon one sees children using. In fact, it was more like a short rectangular cart. It’s walls were like a chain linked fence, but she had covered them with a strange brown fabric.

The pattern of the fabric is indescribable. It was more strange than hideous, but a good amount hideous. It was an amalgamation of hues and patterns that all mixed together to form a tan-brown tartan-plaid fabric. That’s as close as I can get to constructing the image for you. I know, it’s weird.

I have been calling the creature inside the cheap cart a dog, but it was more of a mutt. I think about that woman now, and I wouldn’t want to go into her house. I’d be terrified to go into her house. Why? Because it’d be disgusting. I feel like she’s the kind of person who would have a muggy, stuffy house with no open windows and the curtains would be closed all the time and the mutt would never get cleaned properly and that’s what makes it a mutt. Her cave would be sort of on the same level as the houses in Hoarders; the television show. But in reality everyone is disgusting.

For instance, people touch money and they don’t wash their hands. People walk around their houses with their outside shoes on. Do you know how much fecal matter a single shoe can collect after a day of walking? People sit on their furniture and their beds with the same clothes that they sat on the bus with. People don’t cover their hair when they go outside and things touch it; things brush up against it, and they think nothing of it. Then they go back to sit on their nasty furniture that never gets cleaned and rub their heads all over it! Figuratively, everyone and their grandmother has sat on their couch, in their chairs, on their beds—it’s madness!

And people always want to touch each other: shake hands, high five, hug—sometimes it truly makes me sick. They don’t wash their hands for 45 to 60 seconds, especially when using a public restroom. I wash my hands and use hand sanitizer afterwards, regardless of if I used a paper towel to open the restroom door; which I always do. I don’t remember the statistic exactly, but if everyone in the world washed their hands properly the spread of germs and disease would be about halved.

One of my schoolmates asked me why I wear a rastacap, although she didn’t use that word, she called it a hat. I responded that I didn’t want to get my hair dirty. She took that as me calling her hair dirty because she doesn't cover it up and she let’s it swing all over the place and it goes down to her butt and she sits on it when she sits on the bus and in chairs at restaurants. Well, yeah it’s dirty to me, but I didn’t tell her that. I told her that I’m a (minor) germaphobe because that’s easier and usually people leave you alone after hearing that since it’s a “medical condition” when really it’s just how all humans should be. Some would say my cleanliness standards are too high; I say other’s are too low.

When she asked me that dumb question I wanted to ask her why she didn’t wash her hands properly when we’d went to the restroom together. I wouldn’t have worded the question in such a polite manner as that, though. Instead, I would’ve been real nasty about it; if I could have come up with something mean and clever. But that’s just not me. I’m terrible at playing the dozens.

But anyway—yeah—those were some very strange people.


The author's comments:

Based on true experiences... (Title inspired by R. Bradbury's short story of similar name)


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