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I turned at the bend in the road and saw a tall gangly man jogging towards me in the distance. I didn’t recognize him and before I could say “one potato, two potato,” he rapidly ran towards me and was now standing next to me and I mean NEXT TO ME. Who does that? I thought this is one of the brashest people I’ve ever encountered and I didn’t like it one bit.

“Can I use your phone?” he asked me, while sweat poured down his silvered sideburns. He wasn’t the least bit panicked about anything. He hadn’t seen an accident. He was as cool as a cucumber, but he wanted my phone. I wanted to say, A friendly ‘hello’ would have started us off on a better track.

“AND WHO ARE YOU?” I asked him boldly, hoping to startle him. It worked. He looked a bit taken a back. He told me his name. It turns out I know his brother. Of course he didn’t ask me my name and I didn’t offer it. This encounter was all about the phone. And clearly, because he didn’t attempt an introduction, this was a man who was used to getting what he wanted.

“Okay,” I said, “since I know your brother, I’ll let you use my phone.” The fear that he might steal my new iPhone 6 and run, subsided.

“I need to call my wife,” he said. “The battery on my phone is dead.”

Then I handed it over to him. Still angry, still wondering why I had lent it to him. Was it because I was a woman that he thought he’d have a good chance of me saying yes to him. If I was a big scary-looking man, would he have asked to borrow it? I think not. At that moment I wanted to be a big scary- man and frighten him away, but instead I heard him leave a message for his wife.

“Hi, Lauren,” he said. “I just wanted you to know that my cell phone is dead. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“Thanks,” he said, handing me back my sweaty phone and jogging away.

Well, at least he said thanks, I thought.

I watched him run down the road. Why was that such an important message for him to tell his wife? I shook my head in disbelief. It wasn’t important and yet he felt compelled to borrow a phone from a stranger. I’m not a walking phone booth. Doesn’t he get that? If he ever asks me again, the answer is no, definitely, no. This is my walk. This is my time. This is my phone. He needs to learn that he can survive a run without a phone attached to his hip.
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