May 5th, 2019

A Man Named Alex

I just killed a mosquito on my forearm. He landed there while I was contemplating life and not writing. Like, I’ve been staring at a work in progress for 47 minutes and I literally only added a hyphen and then later removed it.

Then the mosquito..uh..distracted me from all the not writing and I smashed it with a little extra vengeance and…this is gross…when I brushed the carcass off my arm, the stinger was still there STUCK IN MY ARM. Blech mosquitoes.

And then, because my brain apparently works like those If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books, that made me think of an encounter I had Friday afternoon. Before I tell the story, I want to be sure to make it clear that I am NOT comparing this guy to a mosquito in any philosophical way. You know – I don’t mean that he was a bloodsucker. I am not making a judgement of the guy at all. It WAS however a very interesting interaction.

Okay, so Friday after work I was stopped at the light at Davis and Division. I was on Davis heading south, so I was facing the railroad tracks. I was the first, and for a time the only, car at the intersection. I was keeping an eye on the railroad crossing because I always seem to get stopped by the train there after work and I really just wanted to get home. I had a terrible splitting headache that had come on suddenly. My ears were ringing and I felt like I had a couple of spikes in my head. I didn’t even have the radio on because of this.

At this intersection to the left there is a little convenience store, and to the right are some apartment/hotel rooms that are … not nice. If you live in my town you know what I mean and if you don’t, well you still know what I mean. They have a reputation for being a place you keep your doors locked around. The convenience store serves as a grocery for some of the people who live in this place. I often see folks carrying food from the store to the apartments because it is in walking distance. There is often at least one person on foot at this intersection.

Friday was no exception.

As I sat watching the train tracks and waiting for the light to change, a flash of neon green from the left caught my attention. A man, I’d say early 20s in age, though who can tell these days, was crossing the street in front of my car. He looked younger than most of my kids. He was wearing a neon green shirt, and jeans that were sagging so low they were barely clinging to his body. I mean, this sag style just defies the laws of physics sometimes! He had a normal build- neither overweight or very thin. He was bald.

He also had a small star-shaped face tattoo.

I know that bit of information because as he crossed the street in front of me, he turned and made eye contact, then changed direction and walked over to my driver side window- which was up- and leaned in to look at me. I felt a little bit like a fish in an aquarium.

He stood close enough to the car that he brushed against it as he moved, which he did constantly. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, bobbing from side to side and somehow up and down. Kinda like… a mosquito. He made quick, jerky movements, flailing his arms a bit and nodding his head up and down and side to side. It just put me in mind of some sort of evasive maneuvers…as if he were trying to avoid unseen swats.

He stood there for a moment, possibly waiting for me to roll down my window. I did not. He leaned in and began talking to me through the glass. “MY NAME IS ALEX!!”

I nodded.
I waved.
Not a wave to indicate he should go away, but a wave to show I had heard him, and I was friendly but I was not going to roll down the window. I know that is asking a lot from a small wave, but I was trying to make sort of a lot of decisions in the moment. I added a smile. Alex began to talk very quickly. I could not understand most of the words because he was mumbling. I heard “Represent and drug and addicts.”

Then, mid-sentence…or possibly mid-word, I couldn’t tell, another car drove up behind me and Alex, jerked toward it with his whole body and then ran away from my car and across the intersection toward the hotel/apartment building.

I watched him go filled with curiosity. A moment ago he had been intent on communicating with me. I felt…unsure of how to feel. The light turned green and I drove off. Now I realize I may have been in some danger, but he didn’t try my door- which was locked, he didn’t hit my window, he didn’t threaten me, and I did not see any sort of weapon. I did see a person, I am sure, who was in some sort of need.

I turned the moments over in my head thinking what I might have done differently. Slip a dollar through a cracked window? Offer to call someone for him? Neither of those seemed too helpful and as much as I want to lend a helping hand, I also want to get my own self home safe.

I was a couple of blocks away when I began to pray for him. I earnestly prayed for Alex and whatever his needs might be the rest of the way home. He may have been a slightly intimidating person, but I had looked into his eyes for several minutes. I felt a connection to him as a human being on the planet. Alex is a child of God, just like me. God loves him, just like me, and God knows his every need…just like He does mine.

And that was the end of it until Alex crossed my mind again today.

I wonder about him and so many other people who are walking through the world with challenges I do not know. Maybe he was put in my path so I would pray for him. Or maybe so he would pray for me. Or maybe both.

Whatever the reason, here I am now, asking you to join me in praying for Alex in whatever way you are led. As always, feel free to throw in a prayer for me as well.

I am comforted that God has us all in the hollow of His hand and that He knows our every need, even when we do not. He knows when we are unsure and He knows our hearts when we do not know what to do. And He is good all the time.

Even though He made mosquitoes.

Now I’m going back to staring at my manuscript. Maybe it does need that hyphen after all…

Happy Sunday.