Menacing in the shadows

I don’t like to judge people when I first see them, but it’s human nature.

I go to this place in town for lunch often, maybe two or three times a week. You can’t eat inside, but you can eat out in the closed off street or you can take-out at the window. I’ve mostly go alone for take-out, but I’ve eaten there with friends sitting at tables, too.

From the first day I started going during the pandemic, months ago, I’ve seen these two guys there – every single time. No matter when I go, at lunchtime, there they are. Sort of near the take-out window, in the shadows, drinking beer. They usually have dark masks on or they are holding them and for some reason, they look at me and I look at them and no one says anything. I find them menacing.

I live in a small village, and everyone knows everyone else, but these two guys are strangers to me. But there they are, every single day at lunchtime, menacing in the corner, drinking beer.

Well, the other day as I parked my car nearby and got out, one of the guys was walking toward me on the sidewalk. I didn’t realize who it was until he said, “Hello.” When I looked up I realized he was one of the menacing ones.

But there he was, he was a harmless, skinny, gray haired guy in his 60s and didn’t look very menacing. I stopped him and said, “Tell me, what are you guys about? I see you every time I’m at the restaurant.”

He tells me he is a college professor and his friend is a computer IT guy or something like that. They are working from home these days (zooming as he called it) and they take a daily break to meet up for lunch/beer. He told me his name, so next time I go by, I’ll call out, “Hi so-and-so,” and I’m sure his friend will get a kick out it.

But it’s interesting how we judge people and how they are different in different locations and situations. They never said anything to me before, but I never said anything to them. We were just there. Seen but not heard.

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