I had left the office, stepping out into the dark, damp and drizzly evening and I had mere minutes to make it to the train station. I started to get a jog on. Not quite a run. I was in a thick coat, dressed for business, and it wasn’t really a sprint kind of situation. A jog would suffice. Plus, I was dressed for winter wearing a scarf and my winter hat of choice.
One of these:
I know, it’s not exactly a fetching look but I’m almost 35 and I feel that “fashion” has had to make way for the preferred choice of the mature man, yes, “functionality.” As a follically challenged man, this type of hat provides warmth to both the exposed parts of my cranium as well as keeping my lugholes protected from any cold draft. I hate cold lugholes, don’t you?
I didn’t fasten the strap of my hat under my chin, I needed some ventilation, especially as I was jogging along. Besides, I’m not seven years old. Although, I admit I have fastened it in the past, yes, but only on exceptionally cold mornings!
As I jogged along to reach my train in good time, I became aware of the clip clop sound of footsteps at pace behind me. They were more regular than my own steps and getting louder, I was indeed being followed. Or was I being chased? I contemplated looking behind to see who it was but I thought I might look like I’m afraid or paranoid. I could have just suddenly turned in a pre-emptive strike scenario. But that might unnerve an innocent commuter who, like me, were merely in a hurry to make the train. I still didn’t feel very comfortable with this situation though. ‘Great, I look like I’m being chased. I look like an executive man-bag thief!’ I thought.
Now a part of me, namely, my competitive ego, thought that I should pick up the pace so that he wouldn’t overtake me. This could be a physical challenge and I could use this to spur me on to make the train in record time. But what if he picks up the pace and I end up in a sudden race? I wasn’t dressed for this and I’m wearing a stupid hat. I’ll be sweating buckets and needing my inhaler by the time I get to the platform! So I decided not to take the bait. No, today will not be a day of athletic competition between two office workers. I’m a grown man, comfortable in my own skin without the need to allow the ego to throw me into sudden competition. I’m better than that.
Eventually, I was overtaken by a taller man than I, in business attire, without a hat, running. He wasn’t jogging like me, he was definitely what I would consider running. ‘Great, now I look like I’m chasing him!’ I thought. Then I thought, ‘He’s getting away, you look like you’re losing this chase!’ So I think I may have sped up my jog a little to maintain a certain gap between us. He was now essentially my pace runner.
We blitzed past pedestrians heading in the same direction. I wondered if they thought we were part of a new executive running club. I thought of the strapline, Literally Running The Business. ‘I bet we look like a pair of bloody fit blokes,’ I thought. I don’t know what it is about running and my apparent belief that it impresses people. It’s something ingrained from school, when the only way I could impress the girl I fancied was to just run as fast as I could. It never worked. Mainly because, by the time I’d reached the far end of the playground, she had forgotten who I was and Neil Malone had stepped in with his Nike trainers. Damn you Neil Malone with your Nike trainers!
The fact is that a 34 year old bald man running doesn’t impress anyone.
We continued to keep the pace, running along the wet pavement; our shadows shifting and altering as we both pass each street lamp. As I looked down, I saw his shadow; the light from the street lamp ahead casting the shadow of a running man behind him. I also noticed my shadow cast in front of me from the street lamp behind me. It was then that I noticed the flapping of the sides of my hat. They resembled something. I almost stopped as I realised that our shadows looked like a man being chased by another man, in a dog costume. Yes our shadows resembled an artistic representation of the pursuit of a shoplifter at Euro-Disney. If it was a modern art film, it could be called Le chase a la Goofy.
But I didn’t give up, even though I could see my opponent fellow runner start to slow down. ‘No stamina,’ I thought.
He stopped running and continued at a walking pace. I thundered past him, jogging / running, my dog ears flapping in the wind, my man-bag under my arm, my lungs gasping for air as I ran past the diesel guzzling black taxis outside the station.
But still, I reached the station first. I was the winner! Better luck next time loser!
You can call me…. The Greyhound.