Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mr. Workpants: A Character Sketch

Looking for Davey Tree/United Way race results? The Viper is happy to help.

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As runners and drinkers, we typically see the same people over and over again, whether along our usual route or sitting at the bar in our local pub. I wonder about these people and what their stories are. One man I always see is Mr. Workpants.

He usually runs on the weekdays, after work. Or at least I assume it's after work, because typically he wears workpants, which appear to be blue Dickies like I used to wear when I drove buses. Sometimes, though, he will wear sweatpants. Until about the middle of summer, he also wears a heavy sweatshirt, usually red. Last time I saw him, he had finally switched to a cotton T-shirt.

I assume many things about Mr. Workpants.

He must be a bigger cheapskate than I am. He still follows the old adage that you don't need anything to run. Just a good pair of shoes.

He runs with short, efficient strides, his back straight and head tilted slightly back. He always looks like he has run farther than I have.

He must weigh nothing. He has to be shedding pounds by sweaty bucketfuls. Those clothes must weigh 50 pounds by the time he's done.

I admire Mr. Workpants, in a way, but I also fear him.

He almost always passes me from the opposite direction. He appears to shuffle slowly along, but something tells me he would run me down if he were behind me. Even though he didn't the other day when I saw him plodding up the hill toward the turnaround. I of course picked up my speed and kept checking over my shoulder. Oh no, he's going to catch me.

Mr. Workpants never snubs me. He responds with a short "Hi" or head nod, depending on what the situation calls for. Is he mimicking me? He seems friendly in that he-was-always-such-a-quiet-man way.

His expression never changes. He looks like he's thinking, plotting. Sometimes I think I'm interrupting some lurid fantasy. Did he just grin?

Despite his proletarian get-up, I can only imagine Mr. Workpants working from home, in solitude. I see him in a basement apartment that is cramped, but fastidiously organized. He has a dry erase white-board with an equation written in hunter green marker, but the equation has no answer. The equal sign has a sinister quality to it, as if urgently demanding its sum.

He doesn't seem like a mathematician. Maybe it's a hobby. Mr. Workpants seems focused on the makeshift work bench, a piece of particle board laid across the double sink in the kitchen.

One of the two computers is always powered on as it sits on the large corner desk in his living room. The screen shows what appears to be an auto-cad program, with a complex blueprint with tight white lines of esoteric design.

When he grows frustrated with his project at home, Mr. Workpants simply walks out the door, wearing whatever clothes he had on and goes for a run in the park, where some quiet young man with the faint smell of booze always gives him the stink eye. He wonders who this guy is.

[Drunkard's note: Mr. Workpants, if you are reading this, I'm describing someone else entirely. I'm sure you are very kind. You probably rescue kittens from trees in your spare time. I'll admit to a certain level of paranoia. But I can't help shake the belief that you always see the worst in yourself in others.]


S said...

That's some impressive profiling you've got there. Sadly, the only people I always see on my run is the autistic boy and his dad who like to throw things at me as I pass them. Yet...I still feel bad trying to profile that.

Ian said...

I always see a happy, overequipped woman. Every Saturday during my long run without fail and regardless of what time I do my run. Sometimes I wonder if she's just been running all day, probably because she's dying to see me.

C said...

I'm always curious about this lanky guy who I see walking his dog. I can't quite make out if he's a cool loner or a potential serial killer. His dog is rather exuberant which seems to be in complete opposition to his owner's personality. Strange.

Interesting to see Mr Helpful strikes again. Are you feeling okay?

Steve Stenzel said...

HA! Love the story. We all know "that guy."

Laura said...

Wow, you have put a lot of thought into this description! Makes me nervous about what people are thinking when they see me run by :)