Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sharing the Sidewalk With Tuba Guy

While I was running this lovely autumn evening, a remarkable thing happened.  Today was not one of those days where I felt fast.  Today was one of those days where I felt a little beat up and slow, so I was slogging my way up one of the longer hills on my route, when up in the distance I saw Tuba Guy.  Tuba Guy was on my same sidewalk.

Residents of Fairfax know who Tuba Guy is.  He's this guy who walks around town playing his tuba--okay, technically it's a sousaphone.  Everyone who's been around Fairfax for a couple of years knows who Tuba Guy is, they've seen him on his almost-daily excursions.  He's been in the Fairfax City Independence Day parade the last few years, and the only people who get louder cheers than Tuba Guy are the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Given that we've lived here for a decade, and given how much I run along the roads that are part of Tuba Guy's regular route, it's reasonable to think that I would have shared the sidewalk with him on several occasions.  The truth is, tonight was only the second time in ten years that I have been on the same sidewalk with Tuba Guy.

But that's not the remarkable part.  At this point I should probably say that I do not wear headphones or listen to music when I run.  I have nothing against people who do, but as I have noted previously in this blog, I choose to use my running time to think big thoughts and ponder the complexities of life and the universe.  Or something like that.

The remarkable part was that when I was still about 150 meters or so away from Tuba Guy, he turned around and he started to play.  Tuba Guy was playing for me.  And I started to get a little pep in my step.  I started to move a little bit quicker.  And for the next two or three minutes, I had Tuba Guy playing a soundtrack for my run.  And it was AWESOME.

Now I seriously doubt that Tuba Guy was actually playing for me.  He was just doing what he does--he walks along and he plays his sousaphone.  And he probably has no idea that the fact that he turned around and started playing when he did was a huge boost for me.  So for Tuba Guy it was probably just another beautiful autumn evening in Virginia, but for me it was exactly what I needed at that point of my run.

As I get older and reflect on the little things in life, this was another one of those experiences that reminds me that those little random acts that might not seem like a big deal to us as we do them can have a big impact on other people.  We might never know it, but that doesn't make those little random acts any less important to the people that it affects.  I wasn't in a bad place today while I was out running--I was maybe lagging a little bit, but I wasn't in distress or about to pass out or anything.  But the feeling that Tuba Guy was providing a soundtrack just for me as I ran up that hill, that made me feel pretty good.

So smile at people when you pass them on the street, in the store, in the hallway at work or school or wherever.  You never know when that simple little random act can have a huge positive effect on someone else.