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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who IS That Guy?

When you've lived in one place your whole life, you stop noticing the people you've seen your whole life. Your neighbors, your pharmacist, your parents-- you don't see them change or age or grow because, really, they're just pieces of landscape.

When you've lived in one place your whole life, one thing you do notice is people who are, well, shall we say, different.

Take the guy on the moped, for example.

Now, in my neighborhood, people are more apt to tool around in Lexus SUV's than on buzzy little motorbikes. That's just how it is in my part of the world. Me? I drive an eight-year-old PT Cruiser with a big dent on the rear passenger-side fender, but that's my problem.

I started seeing the guy on the moped maybe three or four months ago. He looked like something out of a Wes Anderson movie and, as he put-putted towards the intersection where I first saw him, I half expected to hear twanky, sprightly harpischord music playing in the background, or maybe a song from "The Faces."

From what I can tell, he's about thirty years old with slightly bucked teeth. A brown, leather messenger bag is slung across his chest. He wears a bright yellow construction helmet on his head, a white dress shirt, a safety vest in vibrant, high-intensity orange, black dress pants, black dress shoes, and an Amish-style beard that flutters in the breeze as he turns the corner on his tiny little bike, its engine buzzing merrily along. And he's always smiling. It's not a shiteating grin by any means, it's not a giddy, bizarre smile either. It's just a small little smile of self-contentment, maybe Jesuslike is too strong, but its a smile of inner satisfaction, of one who moves effortlessly through a listless and dubious world.

It's quite a sight, let me tell you.

My first thought was that he is a construction worker-- but the dressy slacks, white button-down shirt, and formal shoes kind of serve to debunk that theory. It's possible that he simply wears the bright yellow construction hat as a riding helmet because he prefers it over a traditional motorcycle helmet for some reason, although the construction helmet has no strap that I can see, and, in a crash, it would go flying off his Amish-looking head. But, hey: whoever said that there was logic in style?

As I go about my weekly routine, I've seen him a few times. Never in a shop or at the post office, but always on the street, on his impossibly small motorbike, wearing his uniform, buzzing along the way.

I think maybe he's some kind of superhero.

I admire the confidence with which he displays himself, puttering along the roads of this affluent suburb, indifferent to the confounded stares of the populous at large. He rides as if he hasn't a care in the world, and he probably doesn't.

I tend generally to be not terribly curious about other people. I'm selfish that way. But here's a guy whose story I really want to know. Badly. Who do you think he is?


  1. You're quite a storyteller, Mr A, and the Moped Man is an intriguing character.

    From his clothes, maybe he is a waiter in a fancy restaurant? But why the beatific smile? Maybe he came off his scooter once, his helmet went flying, and he got brain damage. Maybe he dislikes wearing a helmet, but is obligated to by law, so he subverts it by wearing an inappropriate and inefficient one?

    Personally, I think he's an undertaker. Professionally, he is forced to be solemn and serious, but he is pretty happy with his life, so he makes up for it by riding a moped to work with a bright yellow helmet. Because he works with death every day he has no fear of it, so doesn't see the need for a safe car, or even a proper helmet.

  2. Modern-day Jesus, as you say! My equivalent, in America.

    You need to take a photo; he sounds awesome.

    Maybe I should get a moped...


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