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On a windy sunny morning Downtown, I’m strolling along Third Avenue North, as usual keeping to myself while covertly observing everybody and everything around me.

It is cemented into my daily behavior, this passion for paying attention to tiny things and tiny lives, tiny things and tiny lives that might otherwise be ignored or expunged from memory.

Suddenly, reality walks right up to me and snarls, causing me to shift focus from the important to the unnecessary.

A young woman stands on the sidewalk, staring off to the west at oncoming traffic, as if waiting for someone or something. She looks neither left nor right.

Off in the distance, I see the Screaming Man approaching. The Screaming Man is a Downtown regular. He haunts the landscape so much that we denizens pay little attention to him…until he gets out of hand.

The woman leans over the curb, again seeming to be searching—perhaps hoping to hail a ride.

I know the habits of the Screaming Man, so I instantly feel protective of her. He is going to walk up to her, ask for money, scream epithets if she turns him down, maybe knock her purse out of her hand. I’ve seen it happen before.

I say, “Good morning” in a cheerful voice, hoping to engage her so that the Screaming Man will decide to pass on by and not take on both of us. This sometimes works.

“Uh, good morning,” she mumbles, surprised that anyone would speak.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it?” I continue, glancing at the Screaming Man, who is trying to decide whether to stop.

“Are you trying to hail a cab?” I ask—you can’t hail cabs in Birmingham, and many visitors do not know this.

“Yes, but I don’t see any.”

The Screaming Man wobbles past, talking to himself and hollering at the windy towers.

I give the pedestrian the number of Yellow Cab, since I’ve never used Uber. She is grateful. I continue my stroll.

Now, back to tiny things and tiny lives and tiny moments and tiny kindnesses.

It’s all in a morning’s stroll, a morning’s effort to expunge the bad and focus on small wisdoms, hidden comforts, unexpected joys


© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.




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