I went for a run this morning. I didn't set out with any specific mileage or time in mind - I just wanted to run. Instead of following either of my normal routes, I ran what will be the course of the Hot Biscuit 5k in July. Um, can you say HILLS?!
I had to pee before I even began my run, but since we moved gyms I don't have a pit-stop ready on Main Street anymore. I figured I'd out run it; I'd started races needing to pee before and the urgency usually disappears. It didn't today, so I decided to stop at the bathrooms at the Duck Pond. Now, this is like 7:45 in the morning... There's no one around. I was very glad of this when I started to open the door, a huge bug of some sort flew up at me and I squealed like a five year old girl. However, what I saw next made me wish there had been other people at the park.
When I got past the bug and into the one stall ladies' room, I saw what I at first thought to be big, Hefty trash bag lying on the floor. I just thought "gross" and started looking for the light switch. Then I saw the pants and shoes sticking out from under the "trash bag," that was actually a big, black coat, and the long, scraggly hair under a hat sticking out from the top. There was someone sleeping in the bathroom.
You'd better believe when I realized what I was looking at I turned tail and ran faster than I had all morning, probably faster than in any race I've ever run too. By the time I got to the road, I couldn't breathe, so I slowed down and that's when I realized I was shaking and my face wasn't just wet from sweat. I walked back up the street to the tech school trying to calm down. But once I got over the initial shock and being frightened by what could have happened if I'd continued into the restroom (a knife to the stomach being the main image in my mind... I watch too many CSI/Law and Order shows), I was over come with emotion from what I'd seen.
I mean, you see homeless people in Atlanta. You hear the statistics about how there are homeless in your hometown. But, to my knowledge, I'd never seen a homeless person in Jasper before. It just affected me more than it does when I see them in Atlanta asking for money. I kept thinking, what if this is someone I know? Like someone I went to school with, or someone I've met in passing? I kept wondering what their story is. Why were they sleeping on the bathroom floor at the nastiest park in town? How many more people are sleeping in similar places all over town? Are any of them kids? It just totally shook me up.
I went on and finished my run, but next time I think I'll have some pepper spray with me just in case.