Looniness of the Wrong-Way Runner

“Townspeople acting out.” That could be our town motto. But sometimes one of us emerges from the crowd of zany non-conformity to demand some wider attention and even get some. Today, that person is a guy I’ll call the Loony Runner.

I first saw him a month or so ago. His schtick is simple: He runs along the street, in the middle of the oncoming traffic lane. He is not a shy type. He seems to prefer well-traveled thoroughfares.

So far, we see just the Loony Runner, loping up our less than pristine pavements. But let’s introduce the inevitable: the drivers who are, innocently for once, motoring toward their destinations: headed for a quick stop at the boulangerie, perhaps, or going to pick up their gifted and talented child from an oboe lesson so that they’lll be on time to the Young Grandmasters Chess Club.

There they go, and here comes the Loony Runner. He doesn’t give an inch. He’s not cowed by the several thousand pounds of steel rolling toward him. When drivers don’t swerve far enough out of their lane to suit him, he delivers a crisp critique that can be heard for two or three blocks. “Asshole!” he might say. Or, “F— you, you idiot!” Or, “Bitch!” He never breaks stride.

Late this morning, he jogged down Cedar Street. I thought of snapping his picture as he went by, but thought better of it. Instead, I called the Berkeley police. The dispatcher sounded like she was humoring me–“Yes, sir, we’ll be sure to have someone check that out.” I had a feeling I was supplying raw material for one of those quaint small town police blotter columns we all love.

See you later, Loony Runner. Next time, I’m taking a picture.

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