Perhaps you have seen Urban Survivor (TM – Dan O’Brien). He’s the man with the extensive pile of shit that pours from the doorway of the closed SHIRT LAUNDRY shop to the middle of the sidewalk. Or maybe you remember him from his previous pile of shit, which sat one block north of the SHIRT LAUNDRY shop and also spilled into the middle of the sidewalk. Maybe you read this Prince of Petworth post about him. Perhaps your neighborhood has an Urban Survivor of its very own.
Let me tell you something that will save you the trouble of walking past the Urban Survivor.
The Urban Survivor is going to tell you what to do. You have the audacity to come down his block every morning, and he’s going to tell you what’s what. He may collect garbage, eat garbage, and wash his clothes in an empty spackle bucket, but the man is going to give you the business. Because the Urban Survivor knows how to survive.
What the Urban Survivor knows about me is limited to what I look like when I run past him in the mornings. Out and back. I’m sweaty and huffing with exertion, wearing the same horrible smelling shirt four times before washing it. I’m a sore for sight eyes. And in this condition, either my most vulnerable or my most powerful, I am not to be fucked with please, thank you.
This doesn’t stop the Urban Survivor from hurling words at me from inside his filthy ski cap. He avoids the typical homeless guy repertoire and goes with original material instead. You won’t hear him ask if you can spare any change. He won’t stand outside the CVS and use his baritone to advocate that there’s a new edition of “Street Sense — only a dollar, help the homeless y’all — I’ll take a Dr Pepper if you could.”
Urban Survivor has a completely different agenda. He is the monster at the foot of my bed who spooks me at the beginning and the end of what is otherwise mindless relaxation. “It’s not good to run so much, you need a rest day!”
Ominous running advice. The two-time champion of collecting shit on the sidewalk wants me to rest, badly. Urban Survivor thinks I run too much. One day he’ll ask me, “Have you had your rest day?” and the next he’s angry at me. Like I messed up his whole day. Like my running inconveniences his life of collecting green tarps and blocking the sidewalk.
“Your heart is going to stop and die!”
Shit’s intense. Urban Survivor yells at me emphatically, his eyes wide open with concern and sincerity. Like he thinks I’m going to drop dead before him, my heart bursting from a leisurely six-miler. In his eyes, it won’t be long before it’s curtains for me. Not from stress on the job, not a terrible car crash, not cancer or cholera. I’m going to die, soon, and it’s because I run too much. I can’t say he didn’t warn me.
But let’s be honest, I don’t even bother to look at him. Because I’m focused. Because I’m heartless. Because I’m sweaty and have to shower before work. Because I’m training, bro, and I want to PR. Because he’s not Bill fucking Bowerman and I know what the fuck I’m doing, OK? I subscribe to Runner’s World and have an inventory of Shot Bloks. Pacers owes me $20 off my next purchase. It’s that kind of showdown.
And while I don’t stop or yield, he takes enough rest for the both of us.
Now I’m going to go get some ashes on my forehead and repent for being such a privileged, lucky, self-righteous, uncharitable, cold-hearted — but motivated and relentless — fucking yuppie.