Last night was date night. I left the house around 5ish to head to a coffee shop and respond to your beautiful comments on my not-drinking post before I met Husband for dinner. At the coffee shop, I bought a water and decaf and settled at the communal island because none of the tables were free. As I got situated, I noticed a guy sitting on a chair by the door. Something wasn't right with him. He was young and redheaded and thin and he wore a black suit and tie and was kind of slumped over. His eyes were almost closed. He clutched his hands together in front of his chest and swayed a bit. For a moment, I thought he might be meditating. But then I noticed that he had dirt caked all over his hands and nails and sleeves. A lot of dirt. I tried to work, but couldn't focus. I kept stealing glances back at him and a pit formed in my stomach. And then I saw a cop walk in and start talking to him. Are you okay? the cop asked.
And the guy in the suit did not answer right away. He looked at the floor and then he looked up and said in a creepily calm voice, No, I am not okay.
I stayed where I was, but fear filled me. The cop led the guy to a bench outside. Several other cops and an EMT clustered around the guy. Through the glass I could see them talking. Inside the shop, all of us started talking, wondering aloud. A rabbi sat across from me and we chatted and hypothesized. The women who worked behind the counter told us they were very scared. The guy had been there for a while and was acting very strange. They had cups of hot water ready to throw on him if it came to that. They said he had both blood and dirt all over his hands. I hadn't seen the blood, but they had. They were the ones who called the cops.
The rabbi and I talked and talked. About New York City, the Upper West Side, the fact that we each have three kids, that his synagogue was nearby. Time passed and I looked out at the bench and saw no one. I assumed it was all over, but then one of the women from behind the counter ran around and started locking the door. I jumped up and looked out. There was an ambulance there and the guy in the suit was fighting the cops to escape. My heart raced. Those of us trapped in that little shop didn't talk much in those moments, but I'm pretty sure we were all scared.
Finally, the situation was under control and the ambulance pulled away and the women who worked at the shop unlocked the door. My husband arrived to pick me up and I introduced him to the rabbi. We left and went to dinner. I was shaken though. I kept thinking of that guy slumped over in that chair, not okay at all. Was he sick? Drugged up? Had he done something terrible?
I will never know the end to this story, but here I am thinking about it. Where is that guy in the suit? Is he in a hospital bed? In a jail cell? Out in the world?
Have you witnessed anything like this? Any strange or sad or scary stories to share? Do you find yourself wondering about strangers?