On my way to work, almost every day, I drive past a young man wearing a sandwich board advertising a café called Munchies. I call him Munchies man.
Sometimes he’s standing by the traffic lights. Sometimes he is several miles along the straight, featureless road that passes the power station. Sometimes he is struggling to walk a greyhound with the sandwich board clacking around his legs.
Always he looks miserable.
I often wonder what Munchies Man does for the rest of the day. Does he just wander around in the morning and then head back to the café to server customers over lunch? Does he dump his sandwich board (and optional greyhound), don a suit and while away the day in boardroom meetings? Or does he wander, endlessly, forever doomed to being a walking advertisement?
I’d quite like it if he had another life, a superhero life. If he was a doctor or a fireman. If at a moments notice he could transform into a heroic figure. If perhaps it wasn’t misery on his face every morning but a deep zen-like concentration preparing for the deeds ahead.
I’m tempted sometimes to stop and ask him, but always resist (not just because of the traffic pressing behind me) but also because of the joy of mystery. Of the possibilities I can imagine for his life. Possibilities that would collapse suddenly should I ever talk to him. A small conversation and no longer the hero in the continuing adventures of Munchies Man.
So instead I watch him every day, for the quick seconds I can see him as I drive past, and wonder about his life.