One morning as I was driving past, I saw a man standing, alone, next to the thick red supports of the sign. He was smoking a cigarette. His back was hunched against the morning chill, and he stood facing the sign's posts, almost embracing them. I got the impression that he was blocking out both the call center on his left, and the traffic on his right. Alone, in his little psychic bubble, baggy jeans pulled up under the round ball of his body. A stretched out polo shirt spread across his belly. Uncut, shaggy hair.
Every time I drove past the center after that, I looked for him. And invariably, he was there. Alone, Smoking his cigarette. Bracing himself to go in to work or bracing himself to go home.
And then. One morning like all the rest I was driving into town, and I looked for him and I found him, but he was not alone! Standing with him were two other men and a woman. They were all smoking their cigarettes together. Turned in towards each other around those bleak red posts, the four of them shut out work and the traffic and suddenly I felt it - the magic that comes when a few people gather and their connection creates a reality unique to just those few.
I was happy for the Lonely Man, and I was happy for his friends, too. What struck me the most was how connectedness could create magic even in a bleak parking lot under an obnoxious sign, with traffic zooming by.
This is a connectedness, I think, that we all need. It is a connectedness I know my heart craves. It's what Zach Galifianakis' character is talking about in The Hangover, when he toasts the guys on the rooftop:
"You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack ... it grew by one. So there ... there were two of us in the wolf pack ... I was alone first in the pack .. it grew by one. So there ... there were two of us in the wolf pack ... I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, "What a second, could it be?" And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!"
So. How about it? Do you have a pack?