A lot of us in the Ballard area work out on a steep hill and steps just east of the Golden Gardens dogpark (see earlier posting), sort of where NW 85th comes to its western terminus. It's a very pleasant place to run, amongst the tall cedars and the other old growth trees so common to that little park. It has quite a network of trails and steep steps and it's often made pleasanter by an older gentleman (I don't even know his name) who maintains the trail, on his own time, with his own tattered rake. He's rather famous amongst the locals for handing out red and white hard candy to everyone that passes by.
This morning, at a little before 10, a very mean thing happened. I had passed the old man several times as I had been running up and down the trail. It was a busy day, with lots of other runners and dog walkers and strollers on the trail. As I was running up some of the steeper steps I heard a commotion coming from the lower landing. One of the men who had been running the steps was telling the older guy, who was now taking a little break, to pick up a candy wrapper that was on the ground. "You're polluting the earth!" he yelled, immediately getting the attention of everyone within earshot. The old man, who has to be at least 80 and is hard of hearing, didn't quite understand. He offered the guy some candy from his bag. The villain hit the old man's hand, causing the candy to fall to the ground, repeating loudly his declaration, at which point I rushed to the man's aid, along with half a dozen other runners who were also on the steps.
We tried to explain to the guy what was going on, that it wasn't cool to hassle the old man and that a single wrapper on the ground wasn't exactly a big deal, even if the old guy did accidentally drop it. Well, the younger guy just went off and started yelling again about polluting the earth and then came a stream of rather poorly articulated profanities, all revolving around pollution and aimed directly at me and the others who were close to bringing him down at this point.
But he was smart enough to continue up the steps, an action we heartily encouraged. We also recommended that he never, ever come back. He went into a jog down 32nd Ave NW as a couple of the attending women, whom he had verbally assaulted, threatened to call 911 from their cellphones. We tried to re-assure our shaken old friend that we had never seen the offender before and didn't think we would again, but we're still left wonder if things will ever be the same, at least for him.
For those of you in the neighborhood, you might want to keep your eyes open for this dude--he seems rather deranged. He's about 5'9" tall, maybe mid-30s, medium weight and build. He has dark hair and, I think, a moustache. On this day, at least, he was in high-style, wearing shorts and a pair of nearly knee-high socks, with Spalding athletic shoes. What a jerk!