8 p.m., Tuesday, January 17:
It was an unusually warm and damp night in the sleepy little town I have called home since before the turn of the century. Goodrich is a smallish, quaint village with a downtown lit up at night with about 20 street lights in a block and half of the business district.
As I have done for about the last decade (but not enough in the winter because the walks are not always shoveled, or clear of snow and ice), I decided to take advantage and get some steps in – try and take the fight to the waistline in a proactive sort-of way.
I donned a light-colored, tan sweatshirt; some 1980s navy blue sweat pants, the style of which was all the fashion rage back when my waistline didn’t matter (the type of sweats with elastic at the end of each pant leg which bunches up somewhere north of your ankles), white tube socks and white sneakers. After a couple of what some may call stretches, I bolted out the entrance of Casa d’Rush for yet another walk on the wild side. Look out, Goodrich — Don Rush is gonna’ walk a whole rootin’ tootin’ two miles!
(Ladies, you can stop swooning now.)
Blue-tooth phone thingy in my ear, with hand gestures that surely would make any Italian-American proud, I talked and walked all of the two miles (up to and down M-15), and with something less than 600 steps to go, the wind picked up and that’s when things got interesting and here is my three points of view of what happened
* * *
8:40 p.m., Tuesday, January 17:
“Hey, Harry, look out the 12-foot-window of this berry good restaurant.”
“What is it Ethel? I don’t see anything.”
“I don’t know, Sweetie. Something big, hulking walked past the restaurant.”
“Ethel, HoneyBunches, light of my life, it is a sidewalk, people do walk on those.”
“Do not give me that condescending tone, Mr. Look, there it is again! See! I am scared!.”
“Quick, Ethel. What time is is?”
“Uhmmm, it is about a quarter of nine.”
“Damn! The sidewalks haven’t been rolled up yet. Somebody quick, call the cops there is a man walking back and forth on this block and he is ON THE SIDEWALK!”
* * *
8:42 p.m., Tuesday, January 17:
“Copy that, Dispatch. Suspicious man walking on the sidewalk in downtown Goodrich. What side of the street is he on? . . . South side, copy. How is he described? . . . Tan sweatshirt, got it. With a hoody? . . . No, no hoody. Copy. He’s a Honkey, got it. Crap, he’s wearing 1980s sweat pants?! Deputy Doright in pursuit! . . . Yes, yes. I will be careful. . . Okay, I’m turning west on main now. There. There! I see him, he’s stationary, leaning against the wall . . . Making contact now.”
* * *
8:44 p.m., Tuesday, January 17:
“Yeah, I know . . . hey, there is a Sheriff’s car slowing down. Hey, the sheriff’s car is turning around in front of me. Cool. Wait, a deputy is getting out. He’s walking to me. Hang on, let’s find out what going on.”
“Evening, Deputy,” I greeted the man in brown, packing heat and looking me in the eyes.
“Good evening, sir. Some one in that berry good restaurant complained about a suspicious male.”
“Uhm? Well, I have been walking, trying to get steps in. I live just up the hill there, I am just walking here, now because it’s windy and it’s easier to hear the phone because the buildings are blocking the wind. I do not have my ID on me, but do you ever read the local newspaper? Page 7, Don’t Rush Me, the column.” I gave him my bestest smile, and a thumbs up to emphasize my good intentions.
“Yes, yes.” He looked me up and down, ascertaining whether or not I was a threat, or threatening. I reckon my 5-10, 250 poundish physique, blue sweat pants, white tube socks and sneakers didn’t shout DANGER! “Everything is good, here, sir, thank you.” And, the Deputy turned to leave.
“Wait. No, sir. Let’s go to the berry good restaurant. I want them to know I’m okay, not a bad guy.”
* * *
The whole episode is kinda’ funny, or it is kinda’ sad, depending on your point of view. When we, the deputy and I, walked into the restaurant, there were a few patrons, but the first person I saw was a waitress. Gee, thought I and introduced my arrival, “Don Rush. Used to coach your kids in little league. How’s your husband – the one I went to high school with?”
I looked over to the other side of the restaurant, and there behind the bar was a familiar young man, tall, dark haired, smiling. “Hey, remember me?” said he. “Why, yes,” I answered. “You used to work down at the corner gas station.”
“I just want everyone to know, Don Rush is not a menace to society. I was just walking, trying to get some steps in.”
And, we, the Deputy and I, left.
* * *
When I walked the last 600 steps, west to home, some folks who were outside another restaurant stopped me. Said they, “We saw the deputy pull you over for walking. Did you get a ticket? What did you do? What happened?”
Thought #1: You know, it is kinda’ cool when most folks in town know you. It is not so hot when some who do know you, see you being questioned by law enforcement. As a matter of face, it’s rather embarrassing.
Thought #2: I think the terrorists have won. We are scared of everything and everyone is suspect of something until proven innocent. Call the cops! What an awesome world we are leaving to our kids.
Thought #3: The Genesee County Sheriff’s deputy was truly a respectful, gentleman – just doing his job.