I don’t know what got into Philadelphia last night, aside from the surprisingly autumnal breeze that followed my car down every block of West Philly to stream through my window at every stop light.
It was the sort of thing that made me want to take side streets with all four windows rolled down. Apparently, for everyone else it made them insane.
I can understand that. No one was thinking about Autumn. The equinox is a month away. The cool air reminded us that time sprints forward with or without us, which apparently precipitates a lot of wrong-way driving and pounding on car windows and generally acting half like an obstacle course and half like an angry mob.
The passage of time was certainly the theme of my errand – to exchange one last goodbye with Jake. When the idea of his moving first emerged last fall it seemed improbably and remote, but tomorrow he’s catching a train to his new home in upstate New York.
On my way home I paused at a stop sign and was faced by a crowd of people standing in a clump across the intersection from me.
“Oh great,” I sighed, “an actual angry mob.”
I’m starting to get the hang of this driving thing, but this was the first human barricade I had encountered. I wasn’t so sure of the procedure. Do I offer a tribute of some kind in exchange for safe passage?
As I hung back trying to decide how to proceed the crowd shuffled slightly and revealed inside of it a human form, lying curled on the street. There was no indication of what happened – a car accident or a sudden seizure? – but the passers by had surrounded the disabled person like cells forming a scab on a wound, protecting the sensitive area from the world at large.
There were enough people that I didn’t think I could contribute any valuable aid. I signaled right and continued my drive, Autumnal air on my trail.