The Bearded Barker and the Flat Tire

The other day on my way to work, I was stopped at a busy intersection waiting for the light to turn green.

I noticed a man across the streeting looking mighty excited to be walking to the bus stop. He was older, had an enormous beard, a full backpack and a head of gray hair. He wore parachute pants and high-tops.

He walked just past the bus stop, paused at the tall, block wall fence that separated a row of backyards from the busy city street and proceeded to partially bark and partially howl like a wolf at the dog on the other side. My window was down a crack, and right after he started howling/barking, the dog responded in kind.

As quickly as he’d begun, the man nonchalantly walked back a few feet to the bus stop, and the other man who had been sitting there the whole time watched him cautiously. The Bearded Barker proceeded to stare down every car that passed them — not just by turning his head, but by turning his whole body. Just as my light turned green, I saw the bus approaching their bus stop; the Bearded Barker waved excitedly, then gave the bus an animated thumbs-up.

It was one of the more interesting things I’ve seen on my way to work.

A few miles up, I made my way into the fast lane — which is never really that fast — and was immediately cut off by a late-80s Toyota truck weighed down with gardening equipment. The left rear tire was flat, and the two men in the single-cab truck didn’t seem to notice…or if they did, they didn’t seem to mind. Apparently there was a lawn in need of mowing, and they were determined to get there. (Except for the fact that they were doing 20 in a 45 mph zone. Always awesome.)

It’s sometimes impossible to know why we see things, or why little obstacles are put in our way. It was easy enough to wonder whether there was a deeper meaning to those two scenes, but as to what the meaning might’ve been, I’m still stumped.

Throughout the day, I tried to make the puzzle pieces fit. Except for a few thoughts about perhaps coming across both the Bearded Barker and Gardeners y Flat Tire because I needed to slow down and appreciate everything I have before my life needs some serious repair, I couldn’t think of anything more specific. Figuratively speaking, maybe I’d need a new set of tires to keep me going for a few more decades — but what shape those tires would come in, I wasn’t sure.

Maybe it was just a reminder that for as much as we perceive others to have — or not have — there’s always a worse place that they (and we) could be in. Maybe the Bearded Barker had all of his worldly possessions in that backpack and, for him, that’s all he needed.

Maybe the flat tire was the least of the gardeners’ worries and they had bigger fish to fry elsewhere in their lives.

There are so many maybes we can conjure up, but only one person who has the ability to deal with their own reality: the Bearded Barker, the Gardeners y Flat Tire, and each of us.

Tonight I am thankful for my burdens, my blessings and for my knowledge of each of them — inside and out. Some moments may be tougher than others, but they’re my moments.

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