Observation: This event actually took place a few months ago, but for some reason, I felt odd telling it at the time. It was about 5:30 am and I was driving to my starting spot for my morning ELM ride. As I drove through an intersection, I spotted something unusual out of the corner of my eye. A man was hunched over, dragging something aggressively across the street. The size and bulkiness of what he was dragging bothered me. At first, I thought I was imagining something. Then I shifted to the thinking “don’t get involved”, but in the end, something told me it just wasn’t right. I made a U-turn and then circled back down the street where I saw the man dragging the object. The street we shared was wide, with two lanes in each direction, as well as parking on both sides. As my lights narrowed in on the scene unfolding, I could suddenly make out more details of the situation.
The man in question was in his 30’s, rough-looking yet clean cut, and had on a nice leather jacket which just looked out-of-place at this hour and in this situation. He was obviously angry and yelling a lot, but now the item that originally caught my attention came into view and I realized it was a large, flowered comforter… that was moving. As I drove closer, the man stopped pulling, looked up and stared at me, visibly annoyed as I was preventing him from being able to execute whatever his plan was without distraction. It was then that a face suddenly popped out of the comforter as if to figure out why they had stopped.
I had stumbled upon a messed up situation, and so I sat in my car waiting to see what the leather jacket man would do. The man in the comforter looked to be homeless and/or a junkie based on his loose collection of teeth and the wear on his face. He appeared freaked out by the whole situation and I could tell by fear in his eyes that didn’t want me to leave. I sat there waiting for the man in the jacket to figure out his next move. My heart was pumping fast and I was slightly nervous, but I was sitting in a large piece of metal ready to move which made me feel in control.
He yelled “What the hell do you want?!?” a few times, but I remained still and silent with the windows up and lights on. After a few minutes of this awkward standoff (which seemed like hours in my head), he got annoyed, threw down his end of the comforter and quickly walked down the street in the opposite direction of me.
I was worried about what else might be in the rolled up, flowered comforter, as well as someone accidentally running over the man inside, so I crept closer and waited with my lights focused in so he could get his bearings. After about five minutes of peeking his head in and out like a turtle to make sure his tormentor was gone, he got up, gathered his comforter and some other items that had fallen out along his path to the street, and snuck into an abandoned building.
I drove further up the street to see where the leather jacket man had disappeared to, as I could sense he was lingering, trying to decide if he should come back. I spotted him with little effort and decided to sit between him and the homeless man for another 15 minutes. Eventually, he got more annoyed with me, walked a couple of blocks away and then disappeared into the streets.
In the end, I can make assumptions about the situation, but there is no way to know what was about to happen or what had taken place moments before. I like to think my headlights helped to avoid an ugly situation from escalating into something worse, either intentional or accidental.
Distance: 17.52 miles
D-Fact: In 1893, Detroiter Mrs. Marie Owen became the first policewoman in the entire United States.