Monday, November 2, 2009

Creep Alert!

There is an unspoken bond between runners.

A smile. A nod. A warm 'hello'.

Regardless of height, age, race, weight or fitness level, passing a fellow runner means you're passing a friend, and all normal tendencies go ignored as you and that person share a moment. A moment in which you know that regardless of his bulging biceps or her graying hair, you are kindred spirits.

So what happens when kindred spirits get creepy?

I heard the pounding footsteps approaching behind me. Staying to one side of the path, I continued my pace, unfazed. I had been passed before. Once, by an elderly Asian man, wearing brown denim and ankle weights. Once by a tall, dark and handsome. I was sure I could handle this heavy-stepped runner.

And then, his steps slowed.

I stayed my course, my eyes straining where my head would not dare to turn, yet he remained out of sight. We continued on for a second or two, before I caught a bit of movement. I turned, and as I did so, he came up beside me.

Dark hair
White shirt
Blue athletic shorts
Glasses, maybe

I turned my attention back to running. He was nothing to be afraid of.

And then, he spoke.

"How you doing?"

I didn't know whether to answer. Sure, we were both runners. At times it can be awkward to pass a fellow runner. And yes, there is a runner's code that says we're to be friends and share in our secret knowledge that what we're doing is better than the walkers or the bicyclists or the golfers even if it causes a bit more pain, but THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE HAVE TO BE SPEAKING FRIENDS.

"Alright," I answered--my standard answered when I'm secretly annoyed. Then, because I live by the runner's code, maintained friendliness, "You?"

"Good," he said.

He lingered for a moment before taking off. Then, not 20 paces ahead of me, he looked back.

Now, he could have been being nice.
He could have been looking out for me.
He could have been double checking on whether the tree he passed a minute ago was truly an oak.
But my gut told me, he was being creepy....and it wasn't just the side stitch talking.

I followed him for a bit (there's only one path around this particular park). Then, after he again stole a lengthy glance behind him, I slowed to a walk. And when the opportunity for me to cross over into the bordering neighborhood presented itself, I took it. There was no way I was going to 'happen' to be in the parking lot at the same time as this guy. No way.

And that's my story. Was he a creep? Maybe. Maybe not. Did I get too freaked? Maybe. But probably not.

I'm trying out this new thing where I force myself to react as a normal person would, because the real me lacks a healthy dose of fear. The real me takes unplanned detours into the neighborhoods of Gary, Indiana, and the real me goes to the Shell station off of Pontiac at 10 o'clock at night.

While the new me throws up a red flag at 'hello'.

It's all about balance.

The real me lacks a healthy dose of fear.


  1. I think He was creppy. When Chad Jason and Rick and I ran, A girl asked me how i was doing and followed me half way through foster park. she was from FMC and she didnt go to TUFW. Thats creepy Runners dont talk to anyone unless they say nod or smile....following you and you dont know them is definetly a creeper. Running isnt suposed to be personal like that.....Hi is not creepy but following you for a mile is.

  2. yeah, wierd, creepy, but maybe harmless. Lots of lonely people just trying to be friendly. keep runnin'!

  3. Jeremy,
    Foster Park has one path around it, so everyone is following everyone else.

    In retrospect, he probably wasn't a killer. Probably just a lonely guy, like you said. I suppose I could have been nicer.

  4. it wasn't just the side stitch talking (hahaha...) this guy was definitely creepy, and i would have crossed into another neighborhood too. it's the second glance that gives it away. was he a killer? probably not, as you said. but with a second look, don't take any chances.


  5. On a totally unrelated and yet somehow related note, Tad uses this quote of mine when playing Call of Duty or any other FPS that requires ducking, peeking, shooting and dying:

    "It's always the second peek that get's you."

    Oh, and did I mention that it seemed at one point he was running in place? Like helping me catch up or something. CREEPY

    Swedish Pankakes

  6. Maybe it was just a lonely dude after all, but a girl can't be too careful. I'd much rather risk seeming unfriendly and anti-social than well, something much worse! Even though a lot of violence that happens to women is senseless and random, thank goodness for little hints like the look back *and* for gut feelings.