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The other me


L. D. Childers Columnist

  Long ago I worked in a big ugly building in a land far, far away from my home. My daily commute required an automobile and huge quantities of gasoline. The fun to be had every day in that big ugly building more than justified the time-consuming and sometimes downright unpleasant journey to and from the far away land.

  Truthfully, most of those work days in the big ugly building in the far away land were about as exciting as watching the price of gas go up from one week to the next. As with many jobs, I saw pretty much the same faces every dayósome nice faces attached to nice peopleósome creepy faces attached to creepy people. But one day, many years ago in the big ugly building, I caught a glimpse of what I thought was an unusual face.

  I was standing alone, in the back of an elevator, on my way down to the lobby to go out to lunch. The elevator stopped on a floor before the lobby, the doors opened and a familiar-looking young man walked into the elevator. The guy looked familiar because he looked almost exactly like a somewhat younger me. Poor fellow.

  We only made eye contact for about half a second. I donít know whether or not he noticed the similarity. When the elevator doors opened again, he walked out through the lobby ahead of me (the older me was a slow walker), and I never saw him again. I half-expected to see Rod Serling standing near the elevator, holding a cigarette and speaking to no one in particular about how this special elevator had just opened up into a certain zone.

  I didnít freak out or anythingóI had my doubts the guy was actually me. For one thing, I rarely was able to walk through that lobby and out the door without tripping on the mat, or bumping into the door jamb and/or the door itself, and/or one or more persons entering or exiting the building. The guy was just a little too graceful to be me.

  He looked an awful lot like me, but maybe seven or eight years younger. Now, the average person might say itís possible the guy really was the younger me, in some sort of time warp, maybe going to lunch in the past. The brevity of eye contact might be an indication that both of us were really me. Iím generally not an outgoing person with strangers, perhaps especially when they look like me. And it stands to reason the other me would likewise not be the type to strike up a conversation with himself on an elevator.

  Still, if a younger me were to go out to lunch in a time warp there in the building where he and I worked, he almost surely would have tripped over something or bumped into someone. Thatís what makes the younger me/time warp theory unlikely. I do sometimes wonder if, seven or eight years later, that guy saw a younger him get on that very same elevator. I donít wonder it very often, but sometimes I do. Sometimes when Iím having a really boring day, and canít think of anything better to wonder about, I wonder about that.

  I guess my strange but true story isnít compelling enough to make a great Twilight Zone episode. Maybe no one besides me would be at all interested in the whole thing, but thatís never stopped me from writing a column before.


  L. D. Childers lives in Henry County. At least one of him does.




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